Law and the Workplace
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Alex Downie

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Virginia Law & Business Review. He also volunteered for the school’s employment law clinic, where he assisted with a variety of employment-related matters ranging from employment discrimination to wage and hour disputes.

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New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Cannabis and the Workplace

The New York State Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) has issued FAQ guidance addressing common questions regarding recreational cannabis use by employees in and outside of the workplace in light of the enactment earlier this year of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”). The MRTA legalized the use of recreational marijuana for individuals ages 21 … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Religious Objections to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

On October 25, the EEOC issued updated and expanded guidance regarding the obligations of employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) when an employee presents with a religious objection to a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The guidance builds upon prior EEOC guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations in the employment context. … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Updated Guidance On HERO Act

On September 30, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) released an updated set of frequently asked questions on the HERO Act. As we previously reported, the HERO Act requires all employers in New York to implement certain safety standards and adopt a prevention plan to protect against the spread of airborne infectious … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Updated Model Workplace Safety Plans and FAQ Guidance Under the HERO Act

***UPDATE: On September 30, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor released updated FAQs regarding the HERO Act. Our blog post on this development is available here.*** On September 23, 2021, New York State issued updated model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans for employer use pursuant to the HERO Act. As we previously … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Designated as an Airborne Infectious Disease under New York State’s HERO Act

***UPDATE: On October 31, 2021, the New York State Commissioner of Health continued the designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease” pursuant to the HERO Act until December 15, 2021. According to the designation, on December 15, the Commissioner “will review the level of transmission of COVID-19 in New York State and determine … Continue Reading

New York State Announces COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for Healthcare Workers

***UPDATE: On September 14, 2021, a New York district court issued an order temporarily blocking New York State from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate “to the extent it categorically requires health care employers to deny or revoke religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination mandates.”  The temporary restraining order is currently in effect through October 12, 2021.  … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Updated Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated guidance largely aligns with the latest information from the Centers for Disease and Prevention regarding protecting workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk from COVID-19. OSHA’s guidance recommends that … Continue Reading

DOJ Memo: The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Does Not Prohibit Entities from Requiring Vaccines Subject to an EUA

In a memo dated July 6, 2021, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the COVID-19 vaccines’ status as products authorized for emergency use does not prohibit public and private entities from requiring them as a condition of employment, education, or receipt of services. This memo comes on the heels of a recent decision … Continue Reading

New York State Issues HERO Act Prevention Standard and Model Plans

On July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor published multiple model documents related to the implementation of the New York HERO Act (the “Act”), which, as we previous reported, requires all employers in New York to adopt a prevention plan to protect against the spread of airborne infectious diseases in the workplace. … Continue Reading

The State of Face Covering Requirements in New York

On June 23, 2021, the New York State Department of Health issued an Emergency Regulation requiring non-fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings in workplaces and other public settings. The publication of this Emergency Regulation comes at the heels of Governor Cuomo’s June 15, 2021 announcement that New York Forward industry guidance would become optional, … Continue Reading

Federal Court Upholds Employer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

On June 12, 2021, a federal District Court in Texas in Bridges, et al v. Houston Methodist Hospital et al, Docket No. 4:21-cv-01774 (S.D. Tex. Jun 01, 2021) dismissed a case challenging a hospital’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. This is the first court opinion addressing the ability of employers to require employees to … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Updated Reopening Guidance for Offices

***June 16, 2021 Update: On June 15, Governor Cuomo announced that 70% of adult New Yorkers have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, the New York Forward industry guidance is now optional for offices, retail, food services, gyms, and other commercial settings. The guidance remains mandatory for large-scale indoor event … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccines

On May 28, the EEOC issued updated and expanded guidance for employers, addressing many unanswered questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. The updates supplement prior EEOC guidance and focus on four topics: (1) mandatory vaccination policies; (2) accommodations; (3) information about employee vaccination status; and (4) vaccine incentives. Below, we highlight the key guidance on each topic. … Continue Reading

CDC Updates Guidance Regarding Fully Vaccinated Individuals

***UPDATE: OSHA announced that it is carefully reviewing the CDC’s guidance and is in the process of updating its guidance to employers.  Until those updates are released, OSHA instructs employers to refer to the CDC’s guidance for information on how to protect fully vaccinated employees. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that New York will adopt the … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Updated Travel Advisory; Relaxes Travel Restrictions

On April 10, 2021, the New York State Department of Health again updated its COVID-19 Travel Advisory for domestic and international travel. The advisory removes many of the quarantine requirements for domestic and international travelers arriving in New York State and clarifies existing guidance for all travelers. Additional information about the current restrictions on travel … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Leave Law

The New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) has issued guidance on the State’s recently enacted COVID-19 vaccine leave law, which went into effect on March 12, 2021.  As we previously reported, the law requires employers to provide employees with “a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours” per dose to be vaccinated … Continue Reading

CDC Provides Guidance for Workplace Vaccination Programs

On March 16, 2021, the CDC issued updated guidance for employers regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace. This guidance focuses on considerations for mandatory vaccination programs, reopening the workplace after employees have been vaccinated, and general best practices regarding vaccinations. Below, we highlight the key aspects of this guidance. Mandating Vaccination Similar to recent guidance … Continue Reading

New York State Announces New COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines

On March 10, 2021, New York State updated its quarantine guidance for individuals exposed to COVID-19. Under this new guidance, individuals who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, provided that certain conditions are met. This announcement brings New York … Continue Reading

Congress Passes American Rescue Plan: What Employers Need to Know

On March 10, 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“Rescue Plan”), a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package intended to provide continued economic relief to individuals, businesses, and state and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law. The following is a summary of … Continue Reading

New York State Passes Bill Granting Employees Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations

***UPDATE: Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law on Friday, March 12. The law takes effect immediately.*** The New York state legislature passed Bill S2588A/A3354B, which would amend the New York Labor Law to grant employees paid leave time for the COVID-19 vaccination.  Below is a brief summary of what New York employers need to … Continue Reading

New York State Announces New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

UPDATE: This post was updated on March 13, 2021 to reflect changes to New York State’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory and to include information on Governor Cuomo’s March 11th announcement regarding quarantine requirements for travelers to New York State. UPDATE: On April 1, 2021, the NYS Department of Health issued an updated travel advisory, which no … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Additional Guidance on COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law

***UPDATE: New York State has modified its Paid Family Leave COVID-19 FAQs for Employees to reflect this New York State Department of Labor guidance. We will continue to monitor New York’s COVID-19 leave law and provide updates.*** On January 20, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor issued new guidance on the state’s COVID-19 … Continue Reading

Congress Extends FFCRA Tax Credit into 2021, Declines to Extend FFCRA Leave

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which requires that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide sick and family leave benefits for certain COVID-19 related reasons, is due to sunset on December 31, 2020. Many believed that the FFCRA’s sick and family leave provisions would be extended into 2021 as part of the … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccines

On December 16, the EEOC issued updated guidance for employers in light of the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) recent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.  Widespread vaccinations are largely perceived as critical in returning all employees to the workplace safely and resuming normal business operations.  As such, many employers have been grappling … Continue Reading
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