As the number of COVID-19 infections in certain states continues to rise, so does the number of states added to the tristate area travel advisory.  Ten additional states were added to the existing list, including the following: Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. Travelers from these states, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington will be required to quarantine for 14 days when going to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

Travelers will not be eligible for New York COVID-19 paid sick leave benefits if they engage in non-essential travel to the states with high infection rates.

See our coverage of the original travel advisory here.

How times change. In 2017, a foul-mouthed advocate of purported employee rights delighted in outing on Facebook his boss—a hard-driving banquet manager who clearly didn’t get the whole employee-relations thing—as a “nasty mother****er.” (To make his disdain inescapably clear, he also posted something about the boss’s mom.) Seldom given the opportunity to blog about something so lurid, we delighted in reprinting the post in full [note: not appropriate for children]:

Continue Reading Thanks for the Clarification: NLRB Says No, You Cannot Ordinarily Throw the F-Bomb At Your Boss

On Monday, July 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor published additional guidance, addressing questions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).

In this post, we highlight some of the guidance relating to wage and hour issues, and management of a remote workforce.

This guidance is particularly apropos, as more and more employers realize that the “new normal” is a world of remote work, with some employers extending telework on an indefinite basis.

Here are some interesting questions the DOL answered and our take-aways from the guidance.

Continue Reading When Home = Work: New DOL Guidance on Managing Your Remote Workforce

On Tuesday July 21, 2020, Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment Practice hosted a webinar focused on best practices for navigating challenges of the “not so normal” workplace of 2020. A workplace where employers are challenged with new rules, laws, risks, and social issues brought on by the pandemic and a supercharged social and political climate.

Two news stories since Tuesday made these challenges real.

As we discussed in our webinar, employers are clearly navigating uncharted waters, including (one we discussed at length) the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and employers approach to handling activism in the workplace.

Now with the pandemic – this includes ‘management’ of face masks – which have become part of workplace attire for virtually everyone.

Continue Reading Consistency is Key – for Employee Masks and T-Shirts in the Workplace

As the number of COVID-19 infections in certain states continues to rise, so does the number of states added to the tristate area travel advisory.  Ten additional states were added to the existing list, including the following: Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.  Travelers from these states, as well as Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, will be required to quarantine for 14 days when going to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

Travelers will not be eligible for New York COVID-19 paid sick leave benefits if they engage in non-essential travel to the states with high infection rates.

See our coverage of the original travel advisory here.

The IRS recently issued further guidance under the CARES Act expanding the categories of individuals eligible for coronavirus-related plan distributions and loans, and providing additional administrative guidance on relief offered under the Act.

Background

As described in our April 3, 2020 Advisory, the CARES Act:

  • eliminates the 10% early withdrawal penalty on up to $100,000 in coronavirus-related distributions for qualifying individuals;

 

  • allows qualifying individuals to include coronavirus-related distributions in income over three years;

 

  • allows qualifying individuals to repay coronavirus-related distributions to a retirement plan in one or more installments within three years;

Continue Reading IRS Issues Guidance on CARES Act for Retirement Plans

Law360 (July 15, 2020, 4:21 PM EDT) — The coronavirus has been novel in more ways than one. On one end of the spectrum, employers confront new questions of almost philosophical dimensions.

How much risk is too much risk? What risks should we ask our employees to accept? Where is the line between ordinary risk — the kind that employees undertake when they walk out the door every day to go to work — and the extraordinary risks posed by a pandemic from which, in the end, employers cannot entirely shield their workforces?

A seemingly more mundane novelty is the plethora of new COVID-19 laws and regulations. Compliance should just be a matter of reading a statute and, well, complying. But even there, an evolving real-world pandemic potentially makes compliance just as complicated.

One example we have helped our clients wrestle with involves exactly this kind of straightforward-on-paper, tricky-in-practice complexity.

One requirement of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act appears to be simple: When an employee working for an employer with under 500 employees gets sick with COVID-19, is seeking a COVID-19 diagnosis, or is subject to a quarantine order of a doctor or a government, they are entitled to up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave.

And that made perfect sense when the law was hurriedly drafted: You get sick once, and you do not get sick again, right?

Wrong. Mounting evidence now shows that contracting COVID-19 does not confer absolute immunity and that many individuals have now contracted the novel coronavirus more than once. So what happens when an employee exhausts his or her 80-hour emergency paid sick leave entitlement, recovers from COVID-19, and then contracts it again?

READ MORE

As New York employers struggle to reopen their workplaces, implement new workplace COVID-19 policies, manage remote workers, and deal with employees who are quarantined, afraid of contracting COVID-19, afraid of the subway, and requesting job accommodations – this is a good moment to remember that all of the ‘old’ employment laws are still alive and well and being enforced.

Earlier today the New York Attorney General reported a $1.5 million dollar settlement of a sexual harassment complaint against a Long Island construction company, claims made by 18 female former employees.

The company, Trade Off Construction, denied all of the allegations and did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.

Continue Reading It’s Not Just All Pandemic, All the Time!

JOIN US: TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020 | 12:30PM EST

Four months ago, the Dow was close to 30,000, employment rates were at historic highs, the coronavirus was still “novel,” and millions had not yet taken to the streets in global protests against police brutality and racial inequality. The workplace we now return to exists in this supercharged social and political climate, with new rules, laws, risks, and social issues creating new and uncharted waters for employers to navigate.

Join Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment partners Barbara HoeyMark Konkel, and Kimberly Carter as they identify risks and share pragmatic solutions to these new challenges. Topics will include:

  • Politics, speech, and activism in the workplace
  • The changing role of HR
  • What “diversity” means now
  • New employment laws
Click here to register

Here’s the scenario – Your Ambulatory Clinic just reopened in May, and since then one of the RN’s, let’s call her Rita, has been late multiple times, and is often on her phone when she should be working. When she was called in by the Director, Rita said, “I have been late because I feel this place is unsafe. Patients are coming in without face masks, we don’t have sanitizer at the desk, and this is just not a safe work situation. I want to make a complaint.”

  • Does Rita have a claim?
  • Can Rita sue?
  • Can you still give Rita the lateness warning?

The answer to all of these questions is YES. Rita may have a claim, she can sue, and finally, yes you should still give her the lateness warning. Healthcare providers beware, this type of complaint may well become more prevalent.

Continue Reading Not What The Doctor Ordered – A New Whistleblower Law for NY Healthcare Employers