Employment Laws Taking Effect in the Spring of 2024 That Will Impact Your Business.

By: Sarah Smith

A. Social Media Protection Act

The Social Media Protection Act, which comes into effect on March 12, 2024, aims to establish regulations and safeguards to protect users’ privacy rights on social media platforms. It seeks to ensure that individuals have control over their personal information shared online.

Under this new act employers are prohibited from requesting, requiring, or coercing any current employee or applicant for employment to:

1) Disclose their usernames and passwords for accessing personal social media accounts.

2) Access their personal social media accounts in the presence of an employer.

3) Reproduce in any manner photographs, videos, or other information contained within a personal social media account.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee or applicant who refuses to disclose any prohibited information related to their personal social media accounts.  

The act does not prohibit employers from accessing an employee’s public social media information.  This act does not prohibit employers from requiring employees to disclose any username and password used by an employee to access employer provided social media accounts, as long as the employee was given notice of the employer’s right to request this information.

This act also allows employers to access an employee’s electronic communications on a device paid for by an employer, where the provision of, or payment for, such device is conditioned upon the employer’s right to access the device and the employee was notified and consented to such access.  Please note that the act prohibits employers from accessing any personal social media accounts contained on employer provided devices. 

Employers should review and update their social media policies to provide the required employee notices and ensure that their current policies do not require access to personal social media accounts.

B. Increased Wage Protections

Effective March 13, 2024, wage protections under Labor Law §§ 190 et. al. will be increased. The Department of Labor (“DOL”) previously rejected wage theft claims from executive, administrative, or professional employees making more than $900 a week. Employees above this earnings threshold were solely limited to pursuing a private action in civil court.

This change to the Labor Law seeks to correct this inflexible approach by increasing the weekly wage threshold from $900 to $1,300 per week. As such, executive, administrative, and professional employees making $1,300 or less per week will no longer be confined to commencing a lawsuit in civil court to recover owed wages and may bring an action with the DOL.

In addition to increasing the weekly wage threshold, the following provisions will also apply to executive, administrative, and professional employees making less than $1,300 per week:

1) Frequency of Pay (Labor Law §191): non-manual workers making less than $1,300.00 a week need to be paid no less than biweekly.

2) Cash payments of wages (Labor Law §192): Requires employers to obtain advance

employee consent for payment by direct deposit.

3) Benefits or wage supplements (Labor Law §198-c): Requires employers to timely pay

all amounts and benefits owed to employees under company policy and sets forth penalties for an employer’s non-compliance.

Though this act does not alter the salary thresholds for classifying employees as exempt from overtime, the DOL has updated their regulations to increase the salary threshold to be classified as an exempt employee. 

Certain executive and administrative employees who meet both the duty and salary requirements are exempt from overtime pay requirements. The salary threshold for classifying an employee as exempt from overtime has been increased as follows: 

  1. In New York City, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties from $1,125.00/week to $1200.00/week ($62,400.00/year),
  2. In the rest of New York State from $1064.25/week to $1,124.20/week ($58,458.40/year).

 If an employee’s salary does not meet the new threshold, the employer will not be able to claim the overtime exemption for that employee, which could result in increased labor costs.

The above changes will provide increased wage protections for employees. The above changes will allow DOL to commence wage theft investigations for any individual making less than $1,300.00 a week.  The above changes to Labor Law §§190 et. al. and the increased salary threshold for overtime may lead to an increase in DOL audits and wage theft litigation. Employers should review their payroll practices to ensure compliance with these changes to avoid potential litigation.

For more information, contact Sheats & Bailey, PLLC; a law firm dedicated to serving the construction industry.  Tel: (315) 676-7314.  www.TheConstructionLaw.com.

The information provided above is not intended to serve as specific legal advice for any particular situation.  Competent legal and experienced counsel should be consulted.