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Serrins & Associates LLC Employment Law Blog

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Is New York a safe haven for workers under a Trump Administration?

There’s an excellent and informative article up at Law360 asking an important question and providing a somewhat comforting answer. The question: are employers justified in feeling that the Trump administration will, via regulatory authority and possibly legislation, relax employee protections in the name of “freeing business”? And the answer: maybe – but employers still have to contend with the strong state-level protections employees enjoy through the United States, including in New York.

New York is and has been for some time an employee-friendly state. Perhaps in some ways, that isn’t a surprise – we are a blue state, after all, with a strong union presence, at least in the public sector. But having a history of unionization and workers’ rights isn’t enough to guarantee strong protections for employees. States like Wisconsin and Michigan have significantly loosened employee protections in recent years. When businesses are able to treat employees (and job-seekers) as disposable, workers have nowhere to turn when they are taken advantage of.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case in New York, where Serrins Law is based.

President Obama raised the salary threshold at which certain employees would be eligible for mandatory overtime pay. This was a huge change, and had the potential to raise the paychecks of quite literally millions of middle-class managers. The new rules, which were stayed by a federal court in Texas,  will most likely be rolled back by the Trump administration. New York however has recently expanded and increased the salary cap at which overtime is not mandated, and it is scheduled to increase over the next few years. In other words, for some employees, it’s now going to be easier to qualify for mandatory overtime pay.

New York also recently became a pioneer in the so-called “Fight for 15,” the nationwide movement to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. Last year, New York raised its minimum wage, and scheduled raises will continue to go into effect over the next few years, ultimately ending with a downstate minimum wage of 15 dollars, and a lower but still improved wage throughout the rest of the state.

Finally, New York will continue to keep on the books some of the most protective discrimination and sexual harassment laws in the nation. The picture painted by all these laws is clear: even under an administration friendly to the concept of reducing workers’ rights, New York will continue to raise wages, expand overtime, and give employees and job-seekers legal recourse if their employers treat them unfairly. That’s a good thing.

If you’re a New Yorker who suspects an employer has violated your rights or withheld wages, you can contact our firm to set up a free telephone consultation.





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