The Occupational Safety and Health Act (the Act) requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Late last week, the agency responsible for administering the Act, the U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued a long-awaited emergency temporary standard (the Emergency Rule) effective for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. In what is being regarded as a victory for the business community, the Emergency Rule is limited in its scope and applies only to employers of workers who provide direct healthcare services or healthcare support services. In addition, retail pharmacies and non-hospital ambulatory care providers are excluded from coverage. Continue Reading OSHA Issues COVID-Related Emergency Rule and Recommendations
On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on employer vaccination policies in the form of additional Q&As. Some of the Q&As relating to mandatory vaccination policies, accommodation, and confidentiality supplement and clarify EEOC guidance that was originally issued on these topics on December 16, 2020. Other Q&As are new as of May 28, 2021, including those relating to employer-provided incentives for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Guidance addresses COVID vaccine issues raised under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and Title VII (including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act). The EEOC expressly states that it is “beyond the EEOC’s jurisdiction” to discuss the legal implications of Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) by the FDA, and whether or how that may affect employer-mandated vaccine policies. The EEOC directs readers to the FDA’s EUA page for more information about the legal implications of the FDA’s EUA for vaccines.
Key provisions of the Guidance are summarized below. All reference to vaccines or vaccinations in this publication refer to the COVID-19 vaccine. Continue Reading EEOC Updates Vaccine Guidance: Accommodation, Confidentiality, Employer Incentives, and More
On May 5, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) withdrew a Trump-era final rule that would have made it easier for employers to designate workers as independent contractors rather than employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The rule, titled “Independent Contractor Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” was published on January 7, 2021, at the tail end of the Trump administration, and was scheduled to take effect on March 8.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. One of the significant COVID-19 relief provisions in the bill includes a 100 percent COBRA premium subsidy so eligible individuals can continue getting health insurance for up to six months. The subsidy is available beginning April 1, 2021, and ends September 30, 2021 (the “Free COBRA Period”). Continue Reading New COVID-19 Relief Package Provides Free COBRA Premiums Starting April 1: What Employers and Employees Need to Know
In one of the latest developments in the Biden administration’s recent initiatives to strengthen environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts in the United States, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced last week that it would not enforce a final rule requiring fiduciaries subject to ERISA to evaluate investment opportunities based upon financial performance factors, rather than ESG metrics. The DOL stated that the final rule “created a perception that fiduciaries are at risk if they include any environmental, social and governance factors in the financial evaluation of plan investments.” Continue Reading DOL Will Not Enforce ESG-Related Final Rule
Two recent federal criminal indictments have captured the attention of both antitrust and employment lawyers, as well as the legal and business community nationwide. The cases – both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas – demonstrate that the U.S. Department of Justice is escalating its focus on so-called wage-fixing and no-poach agreements. This is an important development to be aware of because (1) the Department of Justice treats wage-fixing and no-poach agreements as per se illegal, meaning that they violate the law regardless of whether there is any anti-competitive effect, and (2) companies may be held liable for these agreements even if they are formed between lower-level employees. Continue Reading New Indictments Raise Antitrust Issues in Employment Settings
In November 2020, Montana joined Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota in legalizing recreational cannabis use. Montana voters approved a pair of ballot initiatives on November 3, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative (“Montana I-190”) and the Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment (“Montana CI-118”), both of which needed to pass for recreational use to become legal for adults 21 and older. Continue Reading Cannabis Legislation in Key States: Montana Voters Approve Legalizing Marijuana for Recreational Use
Remember August 2019? Before COVID? Before masks? Before shutdowns, limited reopenings, resurgences, and renewed shutdowns? Before presidential election drama?
Fifteen months seems like a lifetime ago. And for many of us, at least a few action items that were important at the time have since slipped to the back burner. That doesn’t make us bad people or even procrastinators; we’ve had a few emergent issues to address that have taken priority. But we’re now about five weeks away from a deadline that was instituted for Illinois employers in August 2019, and if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to ensure compliance with the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA).
Election Day 2020 is days away. Early voting records have been shattered, with tens of millions of voters already casting their ballots by mail or in-person early voting. Despite these record early voting numbers, tens of millions more will still vote in person on November 3. Some of those Election Day voters are certain to be your employees. Continue Reading We Have Enough Battlegrounds: Keep Employee Voting Leave Requests Civil by Following State Law
Under a new presidential executive order, employers may not provide any employee training that teaches employees “cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex” if the employer is a federal contractor.
Following a September 4, 2020 White House memorandum reprimanding federal agencies for holding “divisive, un-American” instruction on systemic racism, on September 22 Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13950, “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which prohibits federal agencies from “promot[ing] race or sex stereotyping in the Federal workforce or in the Uniformed Services.” The Order goes much farther than that, however, by providing that federal contractors “will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.” Continue Reading New Executive Order Prohibits “Divisive” Diversity and Inclusion Training for Federal Contractors