New York City Has Proposed a Biometrics Privacy Law
Biometrics is a new technology identification system being used by a variety of industries for various purposes. The primary means of identification include:
- Retinal scans
- Facial recognition
- Iris scans
Businesses have started using biometrics for time clocks, for entry to secure areas and to login to phones and computers. To this degree, biometrics directly relates to employment situations.
States with Biometric Privacy Laws
While new technology is often uncharted territory from a legal perspective, three states have already adopted biometric privacy laws: Illinois, Texas and Washington. What the laws have in common is requiring consent before collecting biometric information. Illinois law is the most restrictive and requires employers to destroy the employee’s biometric information after a certain period of time if no longer employed by the business.
New York City Proposed Biometric Privacy Law
The National Law Review published an article in January 2019 that described the proposed bill under consideration by the New York City Council. The bill would require businesses to give notice to customers if they are collecting biometric identifier information, and it included a provision that if a person’s information was collected, retained, converted, shared or stored in violation of the law, the person had the right to take legal action.
Under the proposed NYC law, business owners using biometrics would be required to do the following:
- Post a clear and conspicuous sign in plain language that explains the business is collecting, retaining, converting, storing and sharing biometric information.
- Business must also make the following available online:
- How long they are retaining or storing the information
- The type of biometric information collected
- Purpose of the collection
- Whether they are sharing information with third parties
At this point, employers should be aware of the fact that a biometric privacy law has been proposed. Currently, NY State Labor Law Section 201-a states that unless allowed by law, no employer can require a person to be fingerprinted as a condition for securing employment or continued employment.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates stay up-to-date with legal changes that affect employment. We represent business owners in employment litigation matters.
Could Going Cashless Result in Legal Problems?
Going cashless is an emerging trend that business owners and restaurateurs are discussing, contemplating and testing. Some businesses have already gone cashless.
What Are the Advantages of a Cashless System?
According to CBS News some ideas in favor include:
- Safer establishments due to no cash on hand
- Direct reporting into the accounting system
- More taxes getting paid
What Businesses Have Been Considering Going Cashless?
Bluestone Lane Coffee along with the salad chain Sweetgreen, both located in Philadelphia have gone cashless. They comprise a total of six stores. Nationwide chains including Dos Toros, Dig Inn and Tender Greens no longer accept cash. Companies that have experimented with cashless stores include Starbucks, Milk Bar, Amazon, Walmart and Shake Shack.
Is a Cashless System Discriminatory?
Pew Research conducted a survey that found the following demographics rely on cash for almost all of their purchases:
- 34% of African Americans
- 17% of Hispanics
- 29% of people earning less than $30,000 a year
Are There States or Cities that Have Passed Laws Banning Cashless Restaurants?
Restaurant Business reported that the city of Philadelphia passed a law, becoming the first city in the U.S. to ban cashless systems for local restaurants and businesses. The law goes into effect July 1, 2019.
Massachusetts also banned restaurants and other retail businesses from refusing to accept cash payments. New Jersey recently passed a law, on March 18, 2019, that required businesses to accept cash. The law goes into effect immediately, and businesses face a $2,500 fine for the first offense and a $5,000 fine for the second offense.
Lawmakers in New York City are currently working to pass a bill that will prohibit retail businesses from refusing cash payments.
Is suing a business for going cashless potentially a new form of discrimination lawsuit? While no lawsuits of this type have been reported in the mainstream media, media outlets are publishing articles arguing that the practice is discriminatory.
If you are considering making the change, it is wise to consult with an attorney and seek legal advice.
At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with employers to help them comply with employment laws and to deal with employment issues.
Two Weeks of Employee Paid Vacation
A paid vacation bill is under consideration and Mayor De Blasio has made a pledge to support the bill. It appears the NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act will serve as a model for the new paid vacation bill.
The National Law Review stated that no other city or state in the nation has a law like this. New York City would be the first if the law passes.
The paid vacation bill would apply to private sector employers, who have at least five employees, and the requirement to receive the benefit is that the employees must work at least 80 hours a year.
What Are the Requirements of the Earned Safe and Sick Leave Law?
New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law has the following provisions:
- Employers with five or more employees, who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in NYC, must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees.
- Safe and sick leave accrues at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year.
- Accrual begins on the employee’s first day of employment
- Employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after their first day of work
- Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave.
Paid Family Leave, Another Paid Time-Off Benefit in NY
In addition to the above law, New York also has the new Paid Family Leave benefit, which was passed into law. This paid time off enables employees who are sick, have a sick family member or who have a newborn baby to take paid time off from work. As of 2019, paid family leave is now 10 weeks (previously it was eight weeks) and the average weekly wage for the leave has increased from 50 to 55 percent.
At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with employers to help them understand and comply with employment laws and deal with employment issues.