New York City Employees Can Sue in Court for Violations of NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

March 15, 2024

On March 20, 2024, a significant amendment to New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (“ESSTA”) will take effect that gives New York City employees the right to sue employers in court for violations of ESSTA.

Under ESSTA, New York City employers are required to provide employees time off for certain covered reasons, including for their own illnesses, injuries or health conditions; for preventative care for themselves and their family members; and for their or a family member’s “safe leave” needs as a victim of domestic violence, a family offense, a sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking. ESSTA requires most NYC employers to provide either 40 or 56 hours of paid or unpaid leave per year, depending on their net income and/or number of employees.

Currently, employees’ sole recourse for alleged ESSTA violations is to file an administrative complaint with the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (“DCWP”). However, as of March 20, 2024, employees will be able to sue employers directly in court for alleged ESSTA violations, without first filing a complaint with or notifying the DCWP. Employees will have two years from the date they knew or should have known about the alleged ESSTA violation to sue in court.

The amendment also expands the remedies available for an ESSTA violation. Most notably, employees who file in court can recover, in addition to compensatory damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief as the court deems appropriate.

Employers should review their existing leave policies to ensure they are providing employees with sick and safe leave in accordance with applicable law, both under ESSTA and its state counterpart, New York Paid Sick Leave, which we covered previously.

If you have any questions, please contact Anne C. Patin, David Baron, Alexandra Agnostak or Elyse A. Moy.


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