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The New York Wage Board has voted in favor of a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers, which will be phased in over the next few years.  The Board’s recommendation will now be submitted to the Commissioner of Labor, who can accept, reject or modify the Wage Board’s recommendations.  In the meantime, there is a 15 day comment period during which interested parties can comment on the the Wage Board’s proposal.  The proposed minimum wage increase for fast food workers is as follows:

For New York City

  • $10.50 on December 31, 2015

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued its proposed rule changes to the so-called “white collar” exemptions to overtime pay on July 6, 2015.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which guarantees a minimum wage and overtime pay, contains an exemption to overtime pay for bona fide executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees.  To be exempt under one of these white collar exemptions, the employee must be paid on a salary (not hourly) basis and perform certain primary job duties.

Since 2004, the minimum salary level to qualify for the exemption under the FLSA has been $455 per week ($23,660 per year).  However, under New York Law, the minimum salary level is higher and is currently $656.25 per week.

According to the DOL, the proposed rule seeks to update the salary level, and to implement a mechanism by which the salary level will automatically increase without having to contend with the “lengthy passage of time between rulemakings.”  The DOL proposes that the salary level be set at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings.  For the first quarter of 2015, the 40th percentile of weekly earnings is $951 (or $49,452 per year for a full-year worker).  The DOL estimates that by the time the proposed rule becomes final in 2016, the minimum salary required would be $970 per week (or $50,440 per year for a full-year worker).

On June 29, 2015, Mayor Bill De Blasio signed into law the Fair Chance Act, which was passed earlier in the month by the New York City Council.  The law amends the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to prohibit New York City employers with four or more employees from inquiring into or otherwise considering a job applicant’s criminal background history prior to making a conditional offer of employment.  The law effectively “bans the box” contained in job applications, which generally inquire into an applicant’s criminal history.

The law does not prevent an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal history, but simply delays the inquiry until after a conditional job offer is made.  The term “inquiry” is defined broadly by the law and means “any question communicated to an applicant in writing or otherwise, or any searches of publicly available records of consumer reports that are conducted for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s criminal background information.”  After an employer extends a conditional offer of employment, and explains that employment is conditioned on the applicant’s responses to a criminal history inquiry or background check, the employer must do the following:

  1.  Provide a written copy of the inquiry or background check to the applicant in a manner still to be determined by the New York City Commission on Human Rights;