Law and the Workplace

Category Archives: Coronavirus

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

OSHA logoAmid 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

UPDATE: Chicago City Council Introduces COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, Reflecting Growing Trend

The proposed Chicago COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) that was the subject of our post on April 27, 2020, has now become law. The Ordinance prohibits Chicago employers from retaliating against employees for obeying a public health order requiring an employee to remain at home as a consequence of COVID-19.  This reflects a growing trend among … Continue Reading

CDC Issues Guidance Warning Against Use of Antibody Testing in Making Decisions Regarding Returning Employees to the Workplace

CDC LogoThe CDC has issued interim guidance on antibody testing for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. While the guidance is primarily directed at clinical and public health entities, it does contain some information relevant to employers, educational institutions, and other entities who may be considering whether and to what extent such antibody testing may play … Continue Reading

Illinois May Soon Require “Essential Employers” to Provide PPE for Workers

The Illinois House of Representatives recently introduced House Bill 5769, which would create the Illinois Personal Protective Equipment Responsibility Act (the “Act”).  The Act would require “essential employers” to provide personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to both employees and independent contractors.  The Act defines an “essential employer” as an employer engaged in an “essential business” as … Continue Reading

OSHA Updates Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Recordkeeping Requirements

OSHA logoOn May 19, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued a memorandum updating previous guidance regarding employers’ obligation to record cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. On May 26, 2020, the previous guidance will be rescinded and OSHA’s updated guidance will go into effect, the key provisions of which are … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Announces Four Phase Plan to Reopen

On Monday May 18, 2020, Governor Baker announced the first phase of his administration’s much-anticipated plan to reopen Massachusetts (the “Plan”), nearly eight weeks after first ordering non-essential businesses to close and advising residents to stay home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In describing the phased reopening, the Governor repeatedly emphasized that the coronavirus … Continue Reading

Responding to COVID-19: Illinois Specific Considerations For Employers

The State of Illinois has taken strong measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on the State of Illinois, on March 20, 2020, the Governor first issued Executive Order 2020-10 directing Illinois citizens to stay at home. The Governor has since issued Executive Orders 2020-32 and 2020-33 extending most of … Continue Reading

Latest Proposed Coronavirus Relief Bill Would Significantly Expand Employee Leave Benefits Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Congressional SealOn May 12, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (“HEROES Act”), which, among other things, would significantly expand coverage and benefits available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). As we have discussed at length in numerous prior posts, the FFCRA provides for paid … Continue Reading

New York State Issues Guidance for Re-Opening of Businesses

***Last Updated: June 1, 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 each of … Continue Reading

New York City Department of Health Issues Standing Isolation Order for Purposes of New York State Emergency Sick Leave Law

NYC HealthThe New York City Department of Health has issued a standing Order that creates a process for those who live or work in the City to receive the documentation needed to claim leave in certain circumstances under the New York State COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave Law. The State Emergency Sick Leave Law requires New York … 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

U.S. DOL Answers Questions From States About PUA Unemployment Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an update to its Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 16-20 to provide additional guidance on the CARES Act’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in response to questions submitted by states. As a quick refresher, PUA expands unemployment benefit coverage to certain workers who traditionally are not eligible … Continue Reading

Illinois Publishes Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program

On April 28, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the “IDHR”) published its model sexual harassment prevention training program, a copy of which is available here. As we have previously noted, effective January 1, 2020, the Illinois Human Rights Act requires Illinois employers to train employees on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020, … Continue Reading

New York City Council Introduces COVID-19 Bills Addressing Essential Workers and Paid Sick Leave Coverage

As previously announced, the New York City Council has introduced an expansive package of COVID-19 bills that, among other things, propose sweeping protections for “essential” workers. The significance of this proposed legislation cannot be understated as the City Council is proposing a mandated exception to the “at will” employment doctrine, which has served as the … Continue Reading

Chicago City Council Introduces COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, Reflecting Growing Trend

On April 22, 2020, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, with the backing of several Aldermen, introduced the COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which, if enacted, would prohibit Chicago employers from retaliating against employees for obeying a public health order requiring an employee to remain at home as a consequence of COVID-19.  This reflects a growing trend … Continue Reading

Virginia Employers Get Ready: New Laws Dramatically Expand Employee Protections and Employer Liability in the Commonwealth

In the wake of Virginia voting in Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature last year, the Virginia legislature has passed, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed into law, a slew of new measures providing Commonwealth employees broad protections and enhanced mechanisms by which to bring claims against their employers for violations … Continue Reading

OFCCP Issues Three New Directives

As noted in our recent posts, OFCCP remains open for business despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  On April 17, 2020, OFCCP provided further evidence of that fact, announcing three new directives “to maximize the effectiveness of [its] compliance assistance resources, increase accountability, and resolve federal contractor compliance evaluations more efficiently.”  Director Leen revealed that two of … Continue Reading

New York City Council Announces Proposed COVID-19 Relief Package For Small Businesses, Essential Workers

***UPDATE: The NYC Council has introduced the relief package.  More details on the bills can be found here.*** As reported by the New York Times, the New York City Council announced that it will introduce a COVID-19 relief package aimed at protecting small businesses, essential workers, tenants and the homeless. The proposed legislation includes a … Continue Reading

Cost-Saving Alternatives to Layoffs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the sudden economic turbulence resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have been exploring ways to temporarily reduce operating costs.  Many employers are seeking alternatives to layoffs.  Such alternatives may include reductions in pay and hours of work, furloughs and shutdowns of operations, and work share programs.  The following identifies the legal and practical … Continue Reading

EEOC Updates Its COVID-19 Guidance

On May 7, 2020, the EEOC issued additional, revised technical assistance to employers, specifically addressing necessary considerations for employers that have employees returning to the workplace who are at higher risk for more severe illness due to COVID-19. This update supplemented the agency’s earlier guidance regarding best practices for diagnostic testing of employees, and the … Continue Reading

New Jersey Excludes COVID-19 Layoffs from State WARN Law and Delays Effective Date of Pending Amendments

On April 14, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law two amendments to the New Jersey WARN Act (the “NJ WARN Act” or the “Act”) that alleviate some of the burdens the Act and  certain pending amendments placed on New Jersey employers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. COVID-19 Mass Layoffs Excluded:  Unlike the federal … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Guidance Limiting Recordkeeping Requirements of COVID-19 Cases for Certain Employers

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: On May 19, 2020, OSHA issued a memorandum revising the below-discussed guidance on employers’ obligation to record cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. On May 26, 2020, the previous guidance will be rescinded and OSHA’s updated guidance will go into effect, the key provisions of which are summarized in our updated blog … Continue Reading

DOL Issues Corrections to FFCRA Regulations – What Employers Need to Know

On April 10, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) released corrections to the regulations implementing the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). We have written in detail about the DOL’s FFCRA regulations in a recently-updated post … Continue Reading
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