In December 2022, the New York City Council introduced the Secure Jobs Act. The Act attempts to redefine the long-established system of at-will employment by requiring New York City employers to provide “just cause” before firing an employee. The Act builds on December 2020 legislation that imposed similar restrictions within the fast food industry, and while covered in depth on our Employment Law Watch blog, we are sharing more broadly, given the significant number of health care and life sciences workers in New York City

The Act includes the following significant parts:

  • If an employer fires an employee for a violation of a work rule, the Act requires the employer to show that the employee knew or should have known of the rule that was violated, that the employee received adequate training regarding the rule, and that progressive discipline was applied reasonably and equitably; and
  • It requires an employer to provide the employee with a written explanation within five days of discharge identifying the precise reasons for the termination including a copy of any materials the employer used to make the discharge decision.

If passed, the Act would amend New York City’s anti-discrimination laws and fundamentally alter the employer-employee relationship in the Big Apple. The Act would apply to all private sector employers with at least four workers in New York City, which roughly covers four million jobs, as reported by the New York State Department of Labor. The Act is particularly relevant to the life science industry, as it is reported that the NYC Metro area (which includes New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, and Connecticut) leads the country with approximately 150,000 life sciences jobs and over 5,000 businesses.

Reed Smith will continue to monitor developments of the Act, which is currently awaiting the members of the New York City Council’s Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection to vote upon it before full Council vote. Follow Employment Law Watch to stay updated.