As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again issued new guidance on August 11, 2022.

The CDC has revised its guidance several times since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  However, this time, some commentators see the latest revisions to the CDC’s updated guidance as signaling a strategic shift in the pandemic.  Many also see it as reaching the new normal given the existence of vaccines, immunity, and treatments. As Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, MMWR author stated, “[t]his guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Continue Reading Have we reached the new normal? The CDC’s Revised COVID-19 Rules

I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment.  Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

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