The new year is upon us, and it is full of changes to New York’s and New Jersey’s employment laws. The following are some recent developments that should be on your radar.

        1. New Jersey Amends its Law Against Discrimination with Protections for Breastfeeding Mothers

Governor Christie signed into law on January 8, 2018, a bill amending New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 (NJLAD), which adds “breastfeeding” as a protected category from harassment, discrimination and retaliation.  A copy of the legislation can be found here.  This means that employers may not refuse to hire or employ or to discharge a breastfeeding mother or to discriminate against such individual in “compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”

Notably, the NJLAD was also amended to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding mothers by providing both break time during the day and a suitable private location in order to express milk.  The private location cannot be a bathroom stall and must be reasonably close to the work area. 

Employers would need to comply with this new law unless they could show undue hardship on business operations.  Determining undue hardship includes consideration of the following factors:

  • the overall size of the employer's business with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities, and size of budget;
  • the type of the employer's operations, including the composition and structure of the employer's workforce; the nature and cost of the accommodation needed, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits, tax deductions, and outside funding; and
  • the extent to which the accommodation would involve waiver of an essential requirement of a job as opposed to a tangential or non-business necessity requirement.

Many large employers are already required to provide these accommodations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA); however, this amendment means that all employers in New Jersey, regardless of size, will be required to provide accommodation to breastfeeding mothers returning to the workplace following the birth of a child.

        2. New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL)

As we have written several times previously, all private employees in New York are now eligible for Paid Family Leave beginning January 1, 2018.  For this calendar year, employees will be eligible for eight (8) weeks of paid time off, and by 2021, it will increase to a total of twelve (12) weeks of paid time off.  NYPFL provides job protection to employees and also continues their health insurance while out on leave.  Copies of our previous alert can be found here.

Employers are required to obtain NYPFL insurance, which is typically added to an existing disability insurance policy.  Employers should inform employees about NYPFL and update employee handbooks and employee notices to include information about the policy.  Payroll processes also need to be updated in preparation for employee contributions, which is currently set at 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage, up to 0.126% of the annual New York State Average Weekly Wage.

Employees are eligible for NYPFL if they are employed by a covered employer when they apply for leave.  In order to be eligible, an employee must work twenty (20) or more hours per week for twenty-six (26) weeks, or if an employee works less than twenty (20) hours per week, he or she is eligible after 175 days worked.

More information for employers about NYPFL can be found here.

        3. Minimum Wage Increases in New York and New Jersey

At the end of 2016, a series of wage increases went into effect for New York employers, based on their location and number of employees.  Every year until 2021, the minimum wage schedule increases.  The following chart shows the effective dates and minimum wage increases:

Effective Date

Workers Employed in NYC by Businesses with 11 or more Employees

Workers Employed in NYC by Businesses with 10 or fewer Employees

Workers Employed in Nassau, Suffolk, & Westchester Counties

Workers in the Remainder of New York State (“Upstate”)

December 31, 2017

$13.00 per hour




December 31, 2018

$15.00 per hour




December 31, 2019

$15.00 per hour




December 31, 2020

$15.00 per hour




December 31, 2021

$15.00 per hour



To be determined

After the increase to $12.50 on December 31, 2020 for Upstate workers, minimum wage will continue to increase according to an indexed schedule until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour.

More information for New York employers about minimum wage increases can be found here.

Effective January 1, 2018, New Jersey’s minimum wage has increased from $8.44 to $8.60 per hour.  New Jersey’s minimum wage is currently controlled by a state Constitutional amendment which took effect after being passed by voters in 2013.  Governor Christie vetoed a bill last year which would have increased New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.  With the election of Democrat Phil Murphy, who will replace Governor Christie, we will be watching for any developments in New Jersey’s minimum wage.  Murphy promised during his campaign to support legislation for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

        4. NYC’s Salary History Ban

Effective October 31, 2017, it is illegal for public and private employers of any size in New York City to ask about an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process.  The law prohibits employers from asking applicants about their current or prior earnings or benefits; asking current or former employers or their employees about an applicant’s current or prior earnings or benefits; searching public records to learn about an applicant’s current or prior earnings or benefits; or relying on any such information in determining an applicant’s compensation.

While this seems stringent, employers are not completely prohibited from talking numbers with applicants.  Employers may still inquire generally about what an applicant’s expectations or requirements for salary, benefits, bonus, or commissions.  And employers may also make statements to applicants about the anticipated salary, salary range, bonus, and benefits for a position.

More information about NYC’s salary history ban can be found here.

        5. NYC’s Fair Workweek Law

On November 26, 2017, the Fair Workweek Law went into effect, which gives fast food and retail workers certain protections.  Fast food employers in New York City must give good faith estimates of when and how much employees will work, predictable work schedules, and the opportunity to work newly available shifts before hiring new workers.   Fast food employers must also honor employees’ requests to deduct voluntary payments from their paychecks to send to nonprofits that have a registration letter from the Department of Consumer Affairs.  Retail employers in New York City must also give workers predictable work schedules.

More information about the Fair Workweek Law for retail employers can be found here, and more information about the Fair Workweek Law for fast food employers can be found here.

The Bottom Line

With the new year here, we hope this list sparks employers to review their own policies to ensure compliance with new laws.  While navigating the various laws may seem daunting, teaming up with trusted advisors can make the road to compliance a seamless one.


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