As part of the New York fiscal year 2020 budget announced April 1, 2019, Election Law Section 3-110 was immediately amended to allow workers to take up to three hours off of work, without loss of pay, in order to vote in any election. In a significant change from the prior law, the employee need not establish insufficient time to vote during off hours in order to take advantage of voting leave (previously, most employees were not able to show insufficient off hour time). However, nothing in the law entitles employees to more time than needed to vote.
Last week the Supreme Court accepted three cases that ask whether federal anti-discrimination laws protect LGBT people from job discrimination. There is disagreement in lower Federal Courts regarding whether sexual orientation and gender identity are included in Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
In 2018, fewer discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission than in any other year in the last decade. In fact, 8,000 fewer charges were filed last year than in 2017. This may seem surprising, given the #MeToo movement, but there are a myriad of reasons why the numbers may be falling.
The trend to legalize marijuana continues. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his intention for New York to be one of the next states to legalize marijuana. While his initial timeline has met some resistance and will not coincide with the State’s annual budget, which was due April 1, it appears New York could legalize recreational marijuana in the very near future. Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation – Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act - would create an office of Cannabis Management to oversee cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The third opinion letter issued by the US Department of Labor on March 14 addressed a New York law that contradicted federal overtime laws. The opinion addresses employees who work for a New York real estate company as live-in janitors (“supers”) to maintain their rental buildings. New York law exempts these workers from minimum wage and overtime law, while the Fair Labor Standards Act does not. The DOL said these workers are not exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements because the federal law does not contain those exemptions.
Another notable opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor letters issued on March 14 is that workers are not required to be paid for community service they perform through an employer program unless they are forced into volunteering. An employer submitted a question to the DOL asking if it had to compensate employees who are allowed to pick their own or employer sponsored volunteer activities. The employer pays them for activities that occur during the work day or on the employer’s premises, but much of the volunteer time falls outside of working hours.
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued three opinion letters. This is the first of a series of blog posts addressing the letters.
Notably, the DOL clarified that employers cannot allow employees to take paid leave in lieu of FMLA leave. As you know, the FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for family members or receive treatment for their own illnesses.
The IRS recently released Technical Advice Memorandum 201903017 (the TAM) providing guidance to IRS personnel as to whether the value of meals and snacks provided without charge by an employer to its employees constitutes taxable wages.
The employer in the TAM provided free meals to all employees, contractors and guests. No distinction was made as to the employee’s position, job duties, responsibilities or other circumstances. Unlimited drinks and snacks were also provided to all employees, contractors and visitors in unrestricted snack areas.
If you made gifts in 2018 in excess of the gift tax annual exclusion amount - $15,000 per donee in 2018, or $30,000 if a husband and wife elect to split gifts - you must file a gift tax return and apply your lifetime gift tax exemption to report these gifts.
If you made a gift to a Trust that has the potential to distribute property to a grandchild, it is important to file a gift tax return to have a clear record of the Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) tax exemption allocated to the Trust.
Good news! Last night, the New York State Department of Labor issued a statement that it would not pursue implementing the proposed call-in pay regulations we wrote about previously (click here for that blog post). This issue is likely headed to the New York State Legislature.