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New York Passes Captive Audience Bill

On September 6, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that amends the New York Labor Law to prohibit employers from participating in mandatory meetings (also known as “captive audience” meetings) concerning the employer’s views on political or religious matters. The new law took effect immediately.

The law makes it unlawful for employers to take adverse action against employees who refuse to attend captive audience meetings. Employers are also required to post a notice at work locations notifying employees of their rights under New York Labor Law Section 201-d; however, it is unclear if the state intends to publish a model notice for this purpose.

Next Steps

Employers should be aware of the new law and take steps to comply with its requirements. This includes limiting communication with employees about religious or political matters, particularly regarding the possibility of unionization. Until it is determined if a model notice will be provided by the state, employers are encouraged to post a copy of Section 201-d at work locations as well as provide it electronically.

Employers should also be mindful of the fact that the new law prohibits adverse action against employees who refuse to attend captive audience meetings. This means that employers cannot discipline, fire, or otherwise retaliate against employees for refusing to attend these meetings.

Employers who need additional guidance on how to comply with the new law should consult with a labor attorney.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.