United States: Employment Reminders For 2016


The new year brings several important changes to New York City and State employment laws.  In this alert, we will analyze New York City's new requirement that most private employers will now have to offer pre-tax transit benefits, the Caregiver Discrimination Bill passed by New York City Council and the status of minimum wage in New York and New Jersey.  


Effective January 1, 2016, under New York City's Affordable Transit Act (the "Act"), Intro 295-A, most private employers with 20 or more full-time employees in New York City are required to offer its full-time employees the opportunity to use pre-tax earnings to purchase certain transportation fringe benefits that are qualified under the Internal Revenue Service (other than qualified parking).  Such transportation fringe benefits include: MTA subway and bus, Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, Metro North, Amtrak, eligible van pooling services, eligible commuter bus services and Access-A-Ride.  

The law defines "full-time employees" as those who work an average of 30 hours or more per week for the employer in New York City.  The Act exempts certain employers from coverage, namely:

(1) government employers;

(2) employers that are not required by law to pay federal, state and city payroll taxes;

(3) employers that are party to a collective bargaining agreement, except where the number of full-time employees not covered by the collective bargaining agreement is 20 or more, in which case those full-time employees not covered by the collective bargaining agreement must be eligible for the benefit; and

(4) employers who demonstrate that offering qualified transportation benefits would cause financial hardship.

Once a covered employee becomes eligible for these benefits, the employee remains eligible throughout his or her employment, even if the employer subsequently falls below the 20-employee threshold. 

Employers are required to provide their covered employees with a written offer of the opportunity to use pre-tax income to purchase these qualified transportation benefits by January 1, 2016, or four (4) weeks after an employee begins full-time employment, whichever is later.  Employers also must maintain records demonstrating that they have made such offers and their employees' responses for two (2) years.

Violations of the law may result in an assessment of civil penalties by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the agency charged with enforcing the Act. Although the Act goes into effect on January 1, 2016, employers will have a six (6) month grace period -- until July 1, 2016 -- to establish a commuter benefits plan before being subjected to penalties.  Moreover, the new law includes a 90-day cure period whereby an employer in violation will have 90 days to cure a first violation before a penalty is actually imposed.

An employer found to be in violation of the Act can be liable for a civil penalty ranging from $100 to $250 for the first violation.  After the expiration of the 90-day cure period, every 30-day period that the employer fails to offer the benefit will constitute a subsequent violation and a civil penalty of $250 will be imposed for each subsequent violation, limited to 1 penalty per 30-day period.

What This Means To You

New York City employers that are subject to the Act should determine whether current employee benefit programs offer full-time employees the opportunity to use pre-tax earnings to purchase qualified transportation fringe benefits in accordance with federal law. If that opportunity is not offered, employers should amend or establish such a benefit plan or program to take effect immediately, ensuring that all employees who work an average of 30 hours or more per week in New York City are eligible for the benefits.


On December 16, 2015, the New York City Council voted in favor of Int. No. 108-A, legislation that amends the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to include "caregiver status" as a protected class. The amended NYCHRL will now prohibit discrimination on the basis of an employee's actual or perceived status as a caregiver.  The legislation is awaiting Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature.

Under the NYCHRL, it is an unlawful discriminatory act for an employer to refuse to hire, terminate or discriminate against an employee in compensation or in relation to terms, conditions or privileges of employment, based on an employee's actual or perceived status as a member of a protected class.  The NYCHRL defines several protected classes, including, but not limited to, "age," "race," "gender," "sexual orientation," "partnership status," "national origin" and "disability."  

The newly passed bill adds "caregiver" as a protected class, thereby prohibiting employment discrimination based on an individual's actual or perceived status as a caregiver.  The amended NYCHRL defines "caregiver" as anyone who provides direct and ongoing care for a child under the age of 18 or for a care recipient.  A "care recipient" is defined as an individual with a disability who:

(1)   Is a covered relative or a person who resides in the caregiver's household, and

(2)   Relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.

The amended NYCHRL further defines "covered relative" as a caregiver's child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, grandparent, child or parent of the caregiver's spouse or domestic partner or any other individual in a familial relationship with the caregiver.

The legislation will take effect 120 days after enactment, although the City Commission on Human Rights is authorized to take any action necessary, prior to the effective date, to implement the amended law.

What This Means To You

New York City employers covered by the NYCHRL should review and update their policies and procedures. Covered employers should also update their training materials for employees, managers and supervisors.


New York

Beginning December 31, 2015, the minimum hourly wage rate for employees in New York State will increase from $8.75 per hour to $9.00 per hour. 

Moreover, the minimum salary amounts that must be paid to New York employees who are exempt from New York's overtime requirements as administrative or executive employees will increase from $656.25 per week to $675.00 per week on December 31, 2015.

Employers should be aware that the New York State minimum wage exceeds the federal minimum wage.  Thus, although an employee's hourly wages may comply with federal law, such wages may not comply with New York law.

Similarly, an employee paid a salary between the federal minimum of $455 per week and the New York minimum of $675.00 per week may qualify as "exempt" from overtime under federal law, yet may not qualify for the same exemption under New York law.  In such circumstances, the employee is entitled to overtime and must be paid at a rate of at least one and one-half times the minimum hourly rate of $9.00 per hour for any hours worked in excess of 40 per week.

New Jersey

New Jersey's minimum wage will remain $8.38 an hour in 2016.  The wage has been tied to the consumer price index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers since January 2014.  The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Economic and Demographic Research (DOL) recently announced that there was no increase to the consumer price index in the past year and therefore the state's minimum wage will remain unchanged for 2016.

What This Means To You

Employers should review the compensation paid to their employees in New York to ensure compliance with the new minimum wage and salary obligations and should take the following steps:

(1)   Confirm the necessary payroll adjustments have been made and that they are in compliance with the new minimum wage laws

(2)   Update their minimum wage posters at the workplace 

(3)   Ensure that their employees who are classified as "exempt" under the administrative or executive exemptions are being paid a salary of at least $675.00 per week in order to avoid violation of New York State's overtime laws

Special thanks to Daniella M. Muller, an associate in the Employment Practice Group, for her assistance preparing this alert.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.