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The New York State legislature is currently considering passage of the Medical Aid in Dying Act (Assembly Bill 4321-A) which is an extremely important piece of legislation which will benefit many New Yorkers and their families, but they are unaware of it. This legislation was initially introduced by Assembly member Amy Pauling, and currently has multiple sponsors. The proposed law is modeled on the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.  First introduced for consideration in 1995, the right to die with dignity law has endured because it remains necessary and well supported. An April 2018 Quinnipiac University poll demonstrates…
March 24, 2021 was Equal Pay Day in the U.S. The White House issued “A Proclamation on National Equal Pay Day, 2021” in which the Biden-Harris Administration drew attention to the fact that in 2019, women working full-time were on average paid just $0.82 for every dollar paid to male employees. The pay disparities are even greater for women of color, with Black, Native American and Hispanic women, earning 63% , 60% and 55%, respectively, of the wages made by white men. Pay disparities are entrenched and have far-reaching consequences. As detailed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in…
On December 31, 2020 the Healthy Terminals Act was signed into law by Governor Mario Cuomo requiring employees working at airports and with contractors providing airport food services to receive fringe benefits or cash supplements. The bill was co-sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx and supported by Service Employees International Union Local 32 BJ, the union representing many of the airport workers.  It is expected that this new law will offset the cost of health care for airport employees who work performing building services, cabin cleaners and wheelchairs and baggage claims attendants. These workers generally cannot afford…
Mayor De Blasio recently signed legislation amending NYC’s paid safe and sick leave law. The new changes took effect on September 30, 2020 and bring NYC’s law more into line with NYS’s paid sick leave law. Key Changes to Be Aware of The key changes in the law that employees in NYC should know about are the following: Employees begin accruing leave immediately upon starting a job and can use the leave as soon as it is accrued; the previous requirement that an employee work for 80 hours to be eligible for safe/sick leave has been removed. Employers with…
The coronavirus pandemic has raised many issues for employers and older employees.  Many employees, over the age of 40, are faced with questions and concerns about the potentially discriminatory decisions being made by their employers regarding layoffs, terminations and returning to the workplace. A significant increase in age discrimination lawsuits is expected due to the pandemic. These claims will be based on the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination against workers age 40 and older, and state and local laws which protect older workers. The number of lawsuits is anticipated to increase in the coming months…
In a June 18, 2020 unanimous decision in the case of Hosking v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr, 2020 NY Slip Op 03484, written by Justice Acosta, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a decision issued by Bronx County Judge Lizbeth Gonzålez which granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint of Jeanette Martinez.  At issue on appeal was whether Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the defendant employer, properly engaged in a good faith dialogue with Martinez, a disabled employee, to ascertain the possibility of a reasonable accommodation.  Martinez was hired to work as a General Services Representative (GSR), performing…
As non-essential businesses reopen, employers are grappling with issues of when and how to safely return employees to the workplace.  The use of antibody testing of employees has been posited as a potential screening tool to assist employers in their decision making, by identifying those employees who had COVID-19 and thus may have developed some measure of immunity. On June 17, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 related guidance to make clear that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may not require antibody testing before permitting an employee to re-enter the workplace. Employers…
During the pandemic, the Human Resources Administration (HRA), which administers Medicaid in New York City has responded with flexibility regarding the application and renewal process to ensure Medicaid applicants or recipients are able to access the care they need. Previously, HRA issued a General Information System message to announce changes to Medicaid eligibility and enrollment processes in light of COVID-19.  This week, HRA issued a new alert providing updated information on its handling of Medicaid applications and renewals during the COVID-19 crisis. Renewals The alert specifies that Medicaid renewals due between March and August 2020 will be extended for…
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, lawmakers and regulators in Washington have turned their attention to addressing the inevitable retaliation against employees who report misuse of the federal government’s pandemic relief funds and questions about the reopening process for workplaces. COVID-19 WHISTLEBLOWER BILL On June 15, 2020, Senator Kamala Harris and Representatives Jackie Speier and Jamie Raskin introduced  into Congress the COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act. If passed, the proposed bill would protect workers who blow the whistle on employers who misuse federal government COVID-19 pandemic relief funds.  The proposed bill recognizes that contractors and workers are often in the best position…
In a decision written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, a majority of the United States Supreme Court has determined that LGBTQ workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historical ruling finally makes clear that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates federal law. Despite using the pejorative term “homosexual” throughout the decision, in all other respects the ruling is a resounding affirmation that LGBTQ individuals are to be treated with the same dignity and respect as other…
Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance to employers related to addressing COVID-19 in the workplace.  As many workplaces are reopening, or planning to reopen, this updated guidance is timely and helpful for many employees and employers. Below is a summary of the major provisions of the additional guidance. Requests for Accommodation As many workplace sites are opening back up, the EEOC guidance addresses the question of employers inviting employees to request flexibility in workplace accommodations. The guidance is clear that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA),…
A bill has been introduced in the New York State Assembly to clarify and amend a recently enacted bill imposing a 30-month look-back period for community Medicaid effective October 1, 2020.  The cumulative effect of the proposed changes and clarifications is to mitigate some of the anticipated harsh effects on Medicaid home care applicants of the sudden introduction of the 30-month look-back period.   Changes Proposed to Look-Back Law The amendment would make the following changes to the application of the 30-month look-back period to community Medicaid: Applies the 30-month look-back period only to transfers or gifts made after…
On Memorial Day, Governor Cuomo announced that state and local governments will provide death benefits for frontline and essential workers who have died from COVID-19. In making the announcement, Governor Cuomo stated “I personally feel a grave responsibility to our frontline and essential workers who understood the dangers of this virus, but went to work anyway because we needed them to. And we’re going to make sure that every government in the State of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency.” Based on Governor Cuomo’s statements, the death benefits would apply…
Reports of the conditions in nursing homes that care for the elderly and disabled, which have been overwhelmingly impacted by COVID-19, are concerning.  According to an analysis conducted by the New York Times, thirty-seven percent of COVID-19 deaths nationwide were of nursing home residents and staff.  State and local governments have developed strategies to address this issue. At a state level, New York Governor Cuomo recently issued an executive order requiring: patients to test negative for COVID-19 prior to admission to a nursing home; testing of nursing home workers; and a waiting period before nursing home workers who tested positive for COVID-19 could…
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act  (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination based on age against an individual 40 years of age or older. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, compensation, discharge, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Sadly, despite this law, ageism in the workplace remains widespread.  The COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionately affected older workers in their 50s and 60s, especially women. Disproportionate Impact On Older Workers of COVID-19 Related Layoffs According to the AARP, when the overall U.S. unemployment rate went from…