Uber and Lyft may be longing, ironically enough, for the days when COVID-19 was the most immediate existential threat to their businesses. But now a California court has ruled that Uber and Lyft cannot classify their California drivers as employees, entitling them to sick leave, wage minimums and a whole host of other job protections.

How exactly did we get here? Let’s turn back the clock to September 2019 when California first signed Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”) into law. AB5 codifies the California Supreme Court’s decision known as Dynamex. In that decision, the Court imposed a stricter three-prong test on employers seeking to classify their workers as independent contractors. We previously reported on this decision here back in May 2018.

Continue Reading California Court Says Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Employees, Not Contractors

On August 3, 2020, New York federal Judge Paul Oetken, vacated several significant provisions of the U.S. Department of Labor’s April 1, 2020 Final Rule, which construes the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), finding that the DOL exceeded its rulemaking authority. State of New York v. United States Department of Labor et al., 20-cv-03020-JPO (S.D.N.Y. August 3, 2020).

Particularly significant for New York employers, this decision changes how they determine which employees are entitled to FFCRA leave and how they can administer those leaves.  The question remains, however, whether the vacated provisions of the DOL’s regulations are still valid in states outside of New York.

Continue Reading New York v. United States: S.D.N.Y. Vacates Key Provisions in DOL’s Final Rule Limiting Paid Leave Under the FFCRA

Chicago, the nation’s third largest school district, reversed course and said it would begin the academic year remotely in September.  This shift leaves New York City as one of the only major school systems still planning to offer in-person classes this fall.  Like the spring school shutdown, continued remote learning presents many challenges for working parents.  Many wonder how they can put in full workdays without sacrificing their child’s education, job performance, and sanity.

Rather than ignoring the challenges for employees with school-aged children, employers can proactively act to help their parent employees and mitigate their own legal risks.  Employers are facing employment lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic on a number of fronts and childcare challenges will certainly be an issue.  For example, one recently filed lawsuit by a California woman against her former employer alleges “she was fired because her young children were making noise during business calls while she was working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Continue Reading Getting a Passing Grade When Office + School = Home

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.

Continue Reading Compel OSHA to Issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19? The DC Circuit Says No to the AFL-CIO (Twice)

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