As we reported merely several days ago, the New York State Legislature had passed a law that would require employers to implement COVID-related safety measures and, if they failed to do so, face the risk of private lawsuits by their employees. Business groups staunchly opposed the law, noting that it exposed already struggling employers with additional risks of frivolous and costly lawsuits. Nonetheless, the bill was signed into law by the Governor last night.
Cuomo’s approval of the bill came with the caveat that employers would be given a timeline by which to come into compliance with the Hero Act’s requirements, so that employers were not immediately caught in lawsuits alleging violations of the safety requirements. It is not yet clear what that timeline is.
As a reminder, penalties for non-compliance with the Hero Act’s requirements may include a fine of $50 per day for failure to implement a compliant plan or between $1,000 and $10,000 for failure to abide by an adopted plan. If it is determined by the State that an employer previously violated the Act in the preceding six (6) years, such penalties may increase to $200 per day for failure to implement a compliant plan or between $1,000 and $20,000 for failure to abide by an adopted plan. Further, employees may bring a civil action against an employer and seek injunctive relief, costs, attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages.
Employers (especially employers looking to bring their employees back to the office over the next few weeks, as office capacity restrictions are lifted) should promptly begin reviewing their current safety plans and making any necessary adjustments.
As a reminder, our prior alert highlights the Hero Acct compliance requirements, here https://conta.cc/331DfCF . If you have any questions about the Hero Act’s requirements and need assistance implementing the safety requirements of the Hero Act, please let us know.