New York City Creates a Private Right of Action Under the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

Posted on: February 12, 2024
In: Labor & Employment

By Peter T. Shapiro

New York City was at one time regularly referred to as Fun City. That moniker is certainly no longer a good fit for employers doing business in NYC. Such employers should be familiar with the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (“ESSTA”), which requires them to provide employees with specified amounts of time off for “sick leave”- to care for or treat illnesses, injuries or health conditions for themselves or family members – as well as for “safe leave”- referring to leave necessitated when a family member is a victim of domestic violence, a family or sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

Employers would be well advised to redouble their protocols for compliance with ESSTA because as of March 20, 2024, an amendment to the law enables aggrieved NYC employees to file claims for violations of this ordinance in court. Previously, employees could only file complaints with the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Employees can now seek compensatory damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs. A two-year statute of limitations applies to such claims, running from the date the employee knew or should have known about the violation. Additionally, there are now enhanced civil penalties available when the employer violates the provisions governing accrual and use of sick or safe time and retaliation.

Attorneys in Lewis Brisbois’ Labor & Employment group are available to advise employers on these and other issues.

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