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Governor Cuomo Proposes Increased Minimum Wage and Significant Changes to New York’s Employment Law in State of the State Address

Authors: Aaron Warshaw (New York City), Allison E. Ianni (New York City)

Published Date: January 29, 2013

Although New York State’s recent strict assault weapons ban has garnered the majority of attention from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 legislative agenda, Governor Cuomo also has made significant proposals that will affect employers, including:

  • A proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 per hour.
  • A far-ranging Women’s Equality Act that would amend the New York State Human Rights Law to: (1) allow for liquidated damages equaling 300% of back wages due to the plaintiff; (2) eliminate justifications for gender pay differentials to performance only; (3) prohibit employers from terminating or retaliating against employees who share pay information; (4) eliminate the exception for employers with four or less employees; (5) add family status (e.g., an employee with children) as a protected class for employment discrimination; and (6) codify the requirement to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy.
  • Reforms to the state’s unemployment insurance (IU) and workers’ compensation (WC) programs, including paying off the $3.5 billion unfunded UI liability through increased taxes and increased enforcement against fraud, and structural changes to the WC program intended to reduce costs.

Employers should note that, for now, New York State has a divided legislature, with Republicans controlling the Senate, so passage of these bills is not guaranteed. For instance, although Governor Cuomo introduced the minimum wage hike as part of his 2013 executive budget, he has admitted that it is unlikely to pass the Senate. Employers should stay tuned in the coming weeks and months.

Note: This article was published in the January 2013 issue of the New York eAuthority.

Aaron Warshaw  (New York City)

Aaron Warshaw
Aaron Warshaw is an experienced, attorney who represents a diverse array of clients in labor and employment matters. He is one of the founding attorneys of the New York City office. Aaron’s first-chair experience includes representing Fortune 500 companies in single-plaintiff and class-action employment cases. He has actively litigated and appeared in many jurisdictions throughout New York State, including before state courts, federal courts, appellate courts, and administrative agencies....

Allison E. Ianni  (New York City)

Allison E. Ianni
Allison Ianni is an associate in the New York City office. As part of her litigation practice, she has handled discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and employee benefit cases, as well as wage and hour disputes, in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies and arbitration panels. She has represented clients in the media, higher education, insurance, and consulting industries. Most recently, Ms. Ianni was part of a trial team that obtained a defense verdict after a 7-day jury...

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