In last month’s Top Tip, we noted that, even though the Vax-or-Test Emergency Temporary Standard is no more, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration can still hold employers liable for failing to protect workers from COVID-19 under existing safety standards. And now we remind you that state OSH agencies may also get involved, as the State of Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (WDL&I) demonstrated this month when it imposed more than $285,000 in fines in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a multi-employer warehouse.
Continue Reading TOP TIP: Employers – State Safety and Health Departments Can Find COVID Violations Too!

Although COVID-19 is still very much present, we see improvement in the COVID-19 numbers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now significantly eased their mask recommendations– although not entirely. Employers may wish to review their workplace masking requirements and other COVID-19 protocols in light of the new guidance, as well as the diminishing restrictions at the state and local level.
Continue Reading What the CDC’s Latest Mask Guidance Means for Employers

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s attempt to issue a general workplace COVID standard was unsuccessful, employers should not assume that they are off the hook with regard to COVID preventative measures, as one company recently learned.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a press release to announce its citation of an auto-parts supplier for failing to protect its workers against COVID-19 in the workplace. This press release effectively warns other employers to comply with CDC and OSHA workplace guidance on COVID-19 prevention and remediation. Although there is no current COVID-specific standard, OSHA is making good on its commitment to use existing standards, including the General Duty clause, which requires employers to provide a work environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

Continue Reading Employers, Don’t Ignore COVID Just Because the Vax-or-Test ETS Is Gone

On January 25, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it was withdrawing its beleaguered Emergency Temporary Standard that required employers with 100+ employees to mandate employees to be vaccinated or subject to weekly COVID-19 testing. With this action, the vax-or-test mandate is no more – for now. However, healthcare employers should be aware that, in addition to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccine mandate that was recently allowed to take effect by the Supreme Court, they will soon be subject to a permanent standard replacing the healthcare ETS that OSHA previously withdrew in December 2021. 
Continue Reading OSHA Withdraws Vax-or-Test ETS, Plans to Issue Permanent Healthcare Standard

[UPDATE – The DOL seems to have removed the fact sheet from its website – but we captured a printout. We also note that the fact sheet referenced the Vax-or-Test ETS as if it were still in existence; perhaps that’s why it was pulled. Be warned that the printout is NOT official and, according to the DOL, should NOT be relied upon! In other words, you won’t be able to cite to the guidance, but we believe the general FLSA principles will likely not change in any future guidance.]

For much of the past year or so, employers have struggled with the question of whether they must pay employees for the time spent getting vaccinated against or tested for COVID-19, particularly during off-duty hours. The U.S. Department of Labor has finally issued guidance on this issue under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Continue Reading The DOL (Finally!) Provides Guidance on Compensability of COVID Testing/Vaccination Time!

As predicted by most legal observers, a split U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100+ employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing/face coverings for their workforce. However, it has lifted the partial stay of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Interim Final Rule mandating vaccination of workers of most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified healthcare entities.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Stays Vax-or-Test ETS But Allows CMS Vaccine Mandate – What Employers Need to Know

Throughout the pandemic, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been constantly evolving to reflect changing circumstances. The latest development is a reduction in quarantine and isolation periods under certain circumstances, which will allow employers to bring employees back to work sooner than before and make other adjustments to their COVID protocols.
Continue Reading What the CDC’s Updated Isolation/Quarantine Guidance Means for Employers

OSHA Withdraws the Healthcare ETS. The Healthcare ETS, which was promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) on June 21, 2021, has been largely withdrawn by OSHA.  On December 27, 2021, OSHA announced its withdrawal of the non-recordkeeping components of the Healthcare ETS.  We previously described the requirements of the Healthcare ETS in our June 15, 2021 E-lert.

Continue Reading OSHA Scraps Its Healthcare ETS While CMS Moves Forward With the Vaccine Mandate in Half of the Country

In a decision that surprised many legal observers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has lifted the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100+ employees (1) to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing/face coverings for their workforce and (2) to provide paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any adverse effects. This means that larger employers must now come into compliance with the requirements of the ETS, unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in with another stay. In the meantime, the federal contractor vaccination mandate is currently stayed, while the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccination mandate for the employees of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers is partially stayed – although both stays have been appealed by the Biden Administration.

Continue Reading OSHA’s Vax-or-Test Emergency Temporary Standard For Larger Employers Is Back in Business – For Now

A COVID-19 infection, in and of itself, is not necessarily a disability that triggers employee rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act – but there are circumstances when it can be, including for individuals experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 (a condition with many names, such as “long COVID,” post-COVID,” “long-haul COVID,” “post-acute COVID-19,” “long-term effects of COVID,” or “chronic COVID”). The EEOC has now updated its COVID-19 Guidance to provide clarification on this issue for employers.

Continue Reading When Is COVID-19 a Disability? The EEOC Speaks