On May 6, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights Act ("HERO Act") into law as a response to COVID-19 safety concerns as New Yorkers return to in-person work. Notably, the HERO Act required all covered New York employers to establish written safety plans complying with certain minimum standards, and to implement those plans if the New York State Commissioner of Health designates an airborne infectious disease. On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul designated COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. This designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans that are in compliance with HERO Act standards. 

Employers who fail to adopt a plan will be subject to a penalty of $50 per day until a plan is implemented, and employers who fail to comply with their adopted plans face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.The HERO Act also provides employees with a private right of action, including the ability to seek injunctive relief, against their employer. Courts may award up to $20,000 in liquidated damages and attorneys' fees to a prevailing plaintiff. 


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