NY HEROS Act Requires All Employers to Adopt New Procedures for Airborne Diseases

The Governor has signed a new law requiring all private sector employers in New York State to adopt safety standards and workplace procedures that protect workers from COVID-19 or other airborne infectious diseases.

NYSBA opposed the legislation because it would place unreasonable burdens on stations and impair news coverage.  In fact it was opposed by the Business Council and most businesses in New York.  The new law –

Creates workplace safety committees for all worksites of 10 or more:  Unfortunately the legislation provides little guidance as to how these committees will be set up and who can participate.  Moreover, it is not clear how this would apply to covering the news from multiple locations.

Sharing Plans:  Employers will be required to share compliance plans with the new employee committees.  The committees may review the documents.  However it is not clear how employers are to respond to the recommendations from the committees.  Moreover, there is little guidance regarding the liability of employers in this process.

Litigation:  The new law creates liability for violating the new safety standards, up to $20,000 in liquidated damages per violation.

The Governor announced an agreement with the Legislature to amend the statute to make technical changes to the bill which will include “giving the Department of Labor and employers more specific instructions in developing and implementing workplace standards, including a clear timeline, and providing for an immediate requirement for employers to cure violations in order to better protect the safety of workers, and limit lengthy court litigation to those private rights of action, in limited circumstances where employers are acting in bad faith and failing to cure deficiencies.”  We are keeping a close watch on this process.

We opposed this legislation, especially because it could have an adverse impact on news gathering.  Our Memo in Opposition to the legislation can be found HERE.

 

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