On January 20, 2021, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Whichever side of the political spectrum you fall on, there can be no question that this is going to signal changes – and not all of them positive – for employers. For all
On July 28, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“DC Circuit”) declined to rehear the unanimous ruling of a three-judge DC Circuit panel that denied the AFL-CIO’s request that the court compel the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) to an emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) to protect workers from coronavirus. This rejection of the AFL-CIO’s petition for rehearing en banc, signals that the AFL-CIO’s five-month effort to compel OSHA to issue an ETS has likely come to an end.
Unless the Supreme Court agrees to review the ruling, or OSHA reconsiders its position (both quite unlikely), employers will not be subject to a new workplace health standard for COVID-19. Instead, they will continue to be subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (“OSH Act’s”) “general duty” to protect their employees from recognized workplace hazards, as well as the myriad of OSHA regulations and guidance that direct employers on specific elements of workplace safety (i.e., PPE, training, recordkeeping). But before we roll the credits on this fast and furious litigation, perhaps a recap is in order.
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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…
U.S. employers are now in the thick of bringing employees back to physical offices, facilities and plants. Some of the myriad issues they must address are pure HR: how to deal with employee fears, for example, or how to figure out if an employee who is immunocompromised is entitled to telework as a form of disability accommodation. Some of the issues, however, are far more basic but at the least as important: how do we ensure physical safety? Happily, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”)—initially criticized for failing to provide definitive guidance on maintaining a safe workplace in a COVID world—has issued guidance on the use of “face coverings” (yes, masks) in the workplace. This post summarizes the key takeaways from OSHA’s guidance.
Continue Reading OSHA Issues Guidance Regarding Face Coverings In The Workplace
On the evening of Monday, March 16, the House amended the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) (HR 6201) by amending the bill with what are being called “technical corrections.”
The previous bill, passed by the House on March 14, contained two main centerpieces: (1) new paid Family and Medical Leave to deal with the
On March 14, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”) (HR 6201). This bill is not yet a law, but probably will be voted on this week or next. If the bill is signed into law by the President (which he has promised to do), the law will…
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Employers are in uncharted territory with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created complicated employment issues that continue to evolve by the hour. Join Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment co-chairs Barbara Hoey and Mark Konkel and senior associate Diana Hamar as they share practical advice for…
As federal, state and local governments continue to develop their responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, employers may find themselves in uncharted territory as to how to deal with emerging employee issues.
There are three overriding rules that all employers should remember:
- Think safety first. Keeping those employees who are infected or at risk of infection at home to ensure that the rest of the workforce is safe should be the number one priority.
- Think about how you can keep your business going. Make sure your work-from-home policies and technology are up to date, and remind employees how to use them.
- Avoid stereotypes. Do not allow employees to assume that people of certain ethnicities are at a higher risk than others. If you become aware of any discrimination or harassment—stop it immediately.
Below are some general answers to questions our clients have been asking. However, please be aware that this is a very fact-specific and complex topic; COVID-19 related employment issues are evolving by the hour. Employers are cautioned to stay abreast of federal, state, and local government advisories, and to consult legal counsel before making employment decisions or changing policy.
With the arrival of 2019 novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) to the United States, employers should begin thinking about strategies to mitigate business interruptions, ensure employee safety, and avoid unnecessary litigation.
Know Your Resources
Employers should continue to monitor reliable guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and local public health agencies. Understanding how COVID-19 is transmitted and what steps can be taken to protect diagnosed or exposed employees is essential to dispelling employee fears. Employers can educate employees on prevention and symptoms and should be prepared to answer employee concerns regarding workplace safety. The following are guides which may be helpful to employers:
- Up to date information on COVID-19 can be found here: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- The CDC’s interim guidance to employers can be found here: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), February 2020
- Information regarding employee travel can be found here: Traveler’s Health
- The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Risk Assessment Guide can be found here: Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings
When Trump was a brand-new President (or force of nature, depending on how you look at it), we observed that the dawn of his administration would not necessarily augur wholesale changes to the overall landscape of legal concerns for employers. Why? Because, as with so many things in Trumpworld, there didn’t appear to be a coherent labor policy, or (given the inexperience of some of his closest team members) even policy competence.
In fairness, however, marauding Huns didn’t have to be particularly artful or finessed about the way they sacked whole cities, right? In a transformative conquest, a blunt hammer probably works as well as a rapier with pinpoint accuracy.
And so it is with Trump. With just about eight months of activity, we have seen the Presidential administration do what Trump is best at: take direct aim at what Obama did and do the opposite. Incremental changes to labor and employment law and regulation under Trump (and some related developments in the courts) have, one by one, almost entirely reversed course on many of the pet labor and employment initiatives the Obama administration championed, among them:
- Limitations on class action waivers, which made it more difficult for large groups of plaintiffs to sue companies.
- “Joint employer” standards that gave labor unions ammunition to argue that multiple franchisees (think McDonald’s), which in the past were treated as separate employers, are in fact joint employers. Those standards, now reversed, gave unions one big fish for organizing instead of many little ones.
- A DOL focus on policing the misclassification of employees as independent contractors by employers—a move sometimes made by employers to reduce tax and employee benefits liabilities.
- Limitations on OSHA drug testing rules covering employees.
- “Blacklisting” regulations that would require federal contractors to publish claims brought against them alleging labor and employment law violations.
- Providing additional fiscal resources to the EEOC and OFCCP, instead merging these employment-related agencies into a single entity.
- Expansions of the so-called “persuader rule,” which required employers to disclose paid relationships with individuals or firms helping employers fight union organizing campaigns.
- New FLSA overtime regulations, which would have raised the “salary threshold” under which overtime must always be paid and expanded overtime pay entitlement to as many as four million American workers.
- A National Labor Relations Board stocked with progressives who increased burdens on employers and decreased burdens on unions, in favor of an NLRB much more likely to roll back Obama-era changes.