October 20, 2020 Juneteenth: A New Public Holiday
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to inform you that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed legislation declaring that June 19, known as Juneteenth, is now a New York State public holiday. According to the legislation’s sponsor, June 19 “acknowledge[s] and reflect[s] on a day that changed the trajectory of the lives of most Blacks and African Americans being held as slaves in the U.S.” It commemorates June 19, 1865 when news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas.
Juneteenth is now the 13th public holiday listed in New York State’s General Construction Law. It is to be treated the same as all other legal holidays; i.e., New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed the following Monday. There is no similar provision in the General Construction Law for holidays that fall on a Saturday. An employer may, but is not required to, observe the holiday on the preceding Friday.
The declaration of a new State holiday may impact your employees’ terms and conditions of employment. For example, a collective bargaining agreement may include a provision giving employees paid time off for any newly declared public holiday. It may also include a provision regarding additional compensation to be paid to any employee who works on a public holiday.
The legislation will also impact school calendars, as schools will be required to be closed in observance of June 19. For the 2020-2021 school year, June 19 falls on a Saturday. There is no legal requirement (as of now) to close on Friday, June 18, 2021. There will be a legal obligation to close on Monday, June 20, 2022.
We recommend that you review your collective bargaining agreements, employment agreements and policies to determine how the legislation impacts your workplace. If you would like assistance in reviewing these documents or with conducting any related collective negotiations, please contact Alyson Mathews (firstname.lastname@example.org), Michelle A. Mahabirsingh (email@example.com) or one of our other attorneys at 631-694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
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© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2020