In my next installment of what has turned out to be a series on the articles written by EEOC staff members for its quarterly Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law, I offer you some interesting tidbits from its most recent publication, addressing national origin discrimination under Title VII – a protected characteristic that is surprisingly wide in scope and, as the EEOC notes, often overlaps with race, color, or religious discrimination. As I noted in my blog post on the EEOC’s article on fragmentation of harassment, although these articles are targeted towards federal agencies, they offer private employers some insight as to the EEOC’s approach to these issues.

Continue Reading The EEOC’s Very Broad Approach to National Origin Discrimination and English-Only Policies

In my spare time (which has been limited during the pandemic, given the whirlwind of COVID-19-related legal developments), I like to peruse the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s quarterly Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law. (Nerd alert!) In addition to summaries of recent EEOC decisions and federal court opinions, each digest contains an article that provides some insight into the EEOC’s position on a particular topic. Now while the articles are targeted towards federal agencies, they offer private employers a roadmap as to the EEOC’s thinking. We’ve blogged about prior articles on religious discrimination, remedies for discrimination, comparing harassment prevention to crime prevention, and new types of race discrimination, among other things. A recent article caught my eye – “Claims of Harassment and the Problem of Fragmentation.” (Well, that’s a new phrase to me!)

Continue Reading What Is Fragmentation of Harassment Claims? The EEOC Speaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to issue a steady stream of new guidance and information on COVID-19, some of which has specific relevance to the workplace. During the first part of February 2021, such guidance includes new masking recommendations, when workers who are severely immunocompromised can return to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and customizable vaccine communications to essential workers (that may eventually be useful for all workers).

Continue Reading The Latest COVID-19 Workplace Guidance from the CDC: More on Masks, Returning to Work After Infection, and Vaccine Communications to Employees

So I keep telling my husband that I’m looking forward to going back a normal social life of restaurants, shows, and girls’ nights out, once I’m vaccinated (whenever that will be – I’m at the bottom of the eligibility list). And my husband, who is a doctor and has been vaccinated, keeps saying, “THAT’S NOT HOW THAT WORKS!!!”

Continue Reading Hey Employers: Vaccinated ≠ Back to Normal! (Updated 2/10/21)

As promised by the new Biden Administration, on January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided stronger guidance for employers and employees on COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance provides information to workers about protecting themselves from COVID-19 in the workplace, elements of effective prevention programs, and other recommendations on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Continue Reading OSHA Provides Stronger Workplace Guidance on COVID-19

As individuals beyond front-line healthcare workers are becoming eligible for the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released a toolkit for employers of essential workers, to join those that it previously released for medical centers/clinics/clinicians, and long-term care facilities. Although targeted for these specific employers, the resources provide information and resources that are applicable to employers generally.

Continue Reading More Guidance from the CDC on Workplace Vaccination Programs

Following the shocking events of January 6, 2020, there have been many reports of individuals who have been terminated, suspended or resigned from employment as a consequence due to their involvement in the deadly storming of the Capitol building or their active support of President Trump’s “stolen election” narrative. But what exactly are the parameters of when an employer can take action against an employee for engaging in off-duty activities that an employer may find repugnant? We first blogged about this issue back in 2017, in light of the deadly white nationalist/supremacist rally in Charlottesville. But a refresher seems timely.
Continue Reading Can Employers Terminate for Off-Duty Conduct (Say, Like Storming the Capitol)?

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its Final Rule to provide guidance on the determination of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule, which largely adopts the Proposed Rule (discussed in our September E-update), is scheduled to take effect on March 8, 2021 – after the change in administration. These so-called “midnight regulations,” issued during the lame-duck period between the election and the new president’s inauguration, can be placed on hold by the incoming President before they take effect – and President-Elect Biden has already indicated that he will issue an executive order that will halt or delay all such midnight regulations.

Continue Reading DOL’s Final Rule Makes It Easier to Achieve Independent Contractor Status – But Will It Take Effect?

The paid sick leave and family leave mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) end on December 31, 2020; however, the stimulus bill passed by Congress on December 22, 2020 permits employers to voluntarily provide those paid leave benefits, and receive the corresponding tax credit, through March 31, 2021. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Back in March, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the FFCRA, which, among other things, imposed two leave mandates on employers with fewer than 500 employees: (1) a two-week emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) mandate for employees who are unable to work or telework due to six specific COVID-19-related reasons; and (2) a temporary expansion of coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to enable employees to take their twelve weeks of FMLA leave for school and child care closures associated with COVID-19 (EFMLA), including a ten-week paid leave component. Significantly, employers are reimbursed for the cost of the leave(s) through a tax credit.


Continue Reading Employers May Voluntarily Extend FFCRA Paid Leave Benefits and Receive a Tax Credit – Through March 31, 2021

As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has modified its What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws resource to address the impact of federal non-discrimination laws on an employer’s vaccine requirements. Of particular interest, the EEOC makes the following points with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act:

Notably, the EEOC emphasizes that federal antidiscrimination laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following guidelines and suggestions from the CDC or other governmental public health authoritiesThe EEOC also refers employers to the FDA’s website for more information on the Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, which differs from the normal approval process.


Continue Reading EEOC Provides COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance