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The New Rules Never Seem to Stop Coming

Andrew I. Bart in Board Operations on May 21, 2019

New York City

Governance May

There are new rules governing employee voting, reproductive health, and lactation.

May 21, 2019

Governing a co-op or condo in New York City doesn’t ever seem to get simpler. One new rule requires boards to provide anti-sexual harassment training for employees; another forbids boards from testing potential employees for marijuana use. Now, just in time for spring, there are three more rules guaranteed to keep co-op and condo boards – and their property managers and attorneys – on their toes. 

First is an amendment to the state Election Law that went into effect on April 1, 2019. It requires all New York employers, including co-op and condo boards, to provide employees who are registered voters with up to three hours at the beginning or end of their workday to leave the workplace to vote in an election. The employee must notify the co-op or condo not less than two working days before the election that he or she needs the time off to vote. Whether the time off is at the beginning or at the end of the work shift is at the employer’s discretion, unless otherwise agreed. Employees must be paid for the time they take off to vote. 

At least 10 working days before every election, employers must post a notice that sets forth these rules, and they must keep it posted until the polls close. My advice to boards is to post it in a break room, kitchen, or other common area frequented by employees. You should also update your employee handbook to reflect this new policy. 

Another change is the expansion of the New York City Human Rights Law to include an additional protected category. As of May 20, 2019, New York City employers with four or more employees must comply with a new amendment to the law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for their “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” These include, but are not limited to, pregnancy testing, abortion procedures, fertility-related medical procedures, HIV testing and counseling, and family planning services and counseling. 

If, for example, you have a doorman who needs time to accompany his partner to a clinic for fertility treatments and you deny him that time, there’s an argument to be made that the co-op or condo has violated this new amendment. Be aware, also, that you must provide written notice to all new employees of this amendment at the start of employment and provide notice to existing employees by Sept. 17, 2019

Finally, the New York City Lactation Law went into effect on March 19, 2019. It requires that employers with four or more employees provide lactation accommodations, including a lactation room where employees can pump/express breast milk, and a reasonable time to pump/express breast milk. Employers are also required to have a written lactation policy and provide it to all new employees. The New York City Human Rights Commission has developed model lactation policies and a lactation request form available on its website here

The commission estimates that during an eight-hour shift an employee may require two to three breaks of 15-30 minutes apiece for pumping time, plus the additional time it takes to travel to and from the pumping space, set up the pump, clean the pump parts, and store the milk.

Co-op and condo boards should  consult an attorney with any questions or concerns about the multitude and never-ending variety of employment regulations. 

Andrew I. Bart is an attorney with the law firm Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel.

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