It is a virtual certainty that lawsuits from employees will increase, and likely with emphasis on whistleblower and retaliation claims as states reopen and more employees return to work. Employers need to think ahead and be ready for this wave of litigation.

There are many reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to these claims.  First, the world is dealing with a new and highly contagious virus and we are in uncharted waters. No one knows what measures must be taken to keep workers safe, or whether there will be other explosions of the virus in workplaces.

Second, the economy is bad and jobs are scarce. Employees who feel that they are at risk of termination or layoff will try to protect their jobs or shield themselves. Some will resort to whistleblowing about health and safety or other public policy issues, while others will might allege individual retaliation claims against their employer. Employers in highly regulated industries, like healthcare, energy, and consumer goods see whistleblowing complaints regularly, but as we move forward, these types of complaints will likely increase and extend beyond these industries.

And finally, the plaintiffs’ bar is hungry. Courts have been closed and cases stalled—they sense blood in the water and will strike.
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On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) into law.  The CARES Act’s purpose is aimed at reducing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and stimulating the economy with a $2.1 trillion dollar infusion.

Among other things, the CARES Act amends Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act creating the “Paycheck Protection Program (the “Program”). The Program broadens relief to a segment of small businesses other than those that would otherwise be ineligible to receive SBA 7(a) loans.  The Program will apply retroactively from February 15, 2020 until June 30, 2020. Below are some highlights:


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On April 1, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations for implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which became effective the same day. We reported on the DOL’s other recent efforts to flesh out the new law through its FAQ section, which included some much needed guidance

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) is effective today, April 1. In honor of this undoubtedly daunting occasion for employers with less than 500 employees, we analyze the most significant provisions from the Department of Labor’s updated FAQs, which fill in gaping holes in the legislation that left employers (and counsel) puzzled.  For employers with fewer than 50 employees, we also examine recent DOL guidance on the “small business exemption” and identify the ways in which employers can qualify for this exemption.


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