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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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

On June 8, 2021, New York State issued updated Interim Guidance for Office Based Work, which provides guidance to businesses regarding capacity limits, face coverings, screening requirements, and more. This latest update, in large measure, was intended to incorporate the CDC’s guidance exempting fully vaccinated individuals from face covering and social distancing requirements in most … 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

New Jersey Governor Issues Executive Order Addressing COVID-19 Health and Safety Requirements for Employers

On October 28, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order addressing health and safety requirements for New Jersey employers that require or permit their workers to be physically present in the office. The Order supplements other guidance that was previously issued for certain industries – including retail, gyms and fitness centers, and child … Continue Reading

Election Season and the Workplace, Part 2: Political Leave Laws

With Election Day just around the corner, we are highlighting some of the issues facing employers in a series of posts on election-related issues. In our first installment, we looked at employee protections around political speech and activity both in and outside the workplace. In this second installment, we’ll examine employees’ rights to take time … Continue Reading

Election Season and the Workplace, Part 1: Employee “Free Speech” and Political Activities

With Election Day just around the corner, we’ll be highlighting some of the issues facing employers in a two-part series on elections and the workplace. In this first installment, we’ll look at employee protections around political speech and activity both in and outside the workplace. In Part 2, we’ll address statutory leave entitlements for employees … Continue Reading

DOL Updates FFCRA Regulations in Light of Recent SDNY Decision

On September 11, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued revised Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) regulations in response to a federal court decision striking down certain portions of its previous regulations. The FFCRA is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide: (1) two weeks of paid sick leave to employees … Continue Reading

EEOC Updates Its COVID-19 Guidance (Again)

On September 8, 2020, the EEOC released an updated technical assistance document addressing COVID-19 and the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Our previous posts about the EEOC’s prior COVID-19 guidance are available here and here. The updated guidance includes 18 new questions and answers, most of … Continue Reading

CDC Updates Guidance on Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On August 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) updated its guidance on Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Previously, the guidance recommended that travelers self-quarantine for 14 days after: (1) all international travel, and (2) domestic travel to areas with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. The guidance now recommends that travelers … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Title VII Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch on June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination “because of…sex” includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Bostock v. Clayton County, No. 17-1618 (590 U.S. ___ (2020). In doing so, the Court made clear that … Continue Reading

Top Three Takeaways from OSHA Chief’s Testimony Regarding OSHA Enforcement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid growing criticism of the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Loren E. Sweatt (“Sweatt”), testified before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee last Wednesday during which she defended the agency’s actions to protect worker safety during the pandemic. Below, we discuss the top three takeaways from … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Guidance for Re-Opening of Businesses

*** Last Updated: July 17, 2020 *** New York State has issued detailed guidance on Governor Cuomo’s “New York Forward” Plan, under which the State will re-open in four phases on a regional basis. The guidance includes additional information regarding: (1) when regions will be permitted to begin re-opening; (2) which businesses are included in … Continue Reading

New York’s Governor Outlines Plan to Re-Open Businesses

***Updated May 5, 2020 to account for new information released by the Governor’s Office.*** In his daily press conference on April 26, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to re-open the state in phases on a regional basis. Under the plan, businesses will re-open on a business-by-business level within each region, with … Continue Reading
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