Survey: 2010 Labor and Employment

Kerry Langan and Katerine Schafer provide an overview of Labor & Employment Law in the state of New York between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.

This Survey year was highlighted by several significant legislative developments at both the state and federal level. The New York State Labor Law was amended to deter employer violations and to require written notice of rate of pay, regular payday, and overtime rate. The New York Human Rights Law was amended to protect victims of domestic violence and to provide for the assessment of civil fines and penalties in cases of employment discrimination. The New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued regulations on mandatory overtime for nurses and revised regulations regarding the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Additionally, the legislature enacted an early retirement incentive for members of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, created a new tier of pension benefits for public employees, and passed two health reform bills extending health insurance coverage. At the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act’s military provisions were expanded and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 took effect.

In addition to the legislative developments, there were a number of significant court decisions on various labor and employment law issues. Notably, the Supreme Court found that the National Labor Relations Board had no authority to decide unfair labor practice and representation cases when only two of its five seats were filled. The Supreme Court also determined that a disparate impact discrimination charge is timely if it is filed within 300 days of the application of a prior discriminatory practice. Additionally, the Second Circuit clarified the applicable standard for retaliation claims under Title VII and provided further guidance regarding an employee’s complaint requirements under the Faragher/Ellerth defense.

The New York Court of Appeals also issued several decisions on various employment law issues, including whether a teacher is entitled to back pay for a Board of Education’s failure to provide timely notice of termination and whether dismissal from employment for failure to possess a valid license or certification should be considered a disciplinary termination. The Court of Appeals also reaffirmed the narrow standard of judicial review with respect to arbitration decisions and enunciated the standard applicable in determining the validity of fee-splitting provisions in arbitration agreements.

Finally, recent decisions by the New York Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and the First Department have continued to highlight the differences between the New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws. New York courts have also continued to address various issues surrounding the employment-at-will doctrine.

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Kerry W. Langan: Associate at Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC; J.D., cum laude, 2007, Syracuse University College of Law; M.A. 2004, Boston College; B.A., magna cum laude, 2003, Boston College.

Katherine Ritts Schafer: Associate at Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC; J.D., summa cum laude, 2008, Syracuse University College of Law; B.A., summa cum laude, 2005, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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