In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many employers have permitted or mandated telework arrangements for their employees.  As more people become vaccinated and the number of new COVID-19 cases declines, however, those employers will likely begin to recall their employees to the office.  Unsurprisingly, many employees have become accustomed to working from home over the past year, and enjoy the ability to wake up, throw on athleisure, and do a couple loads of laundry as they go about their workday.  This begs the question: is an employer obligated to permit an employee to telework simply because the employee finds working from home more preferable, desirable, or convenient than going to the office?   A federal judge in the District of Columbia recently said “no.”

Continue Reading Employees Don’t Get to Telework Just Because They Want To…

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new, more relaxed COVID-19 protocols for fully-vaccinated individuals. Notably, among the guidance, the CDC stated that such individuals should continue to “[f]ollow guidance from individual employers.” But should employers modify their existing guidance to account for these new protocols?

Continue Reading Looser COVID-19 Rules for Vaccinated Individuals? What This Means for Employers

With case rates declining and COVID vaccine options expanding, five States as of March 8, 2021 have announced the end of all pandemic-driven restrictions, including mask mandates. (The lifting of Texas’ ban takes place on March 10; eleven states never mandated face coverings.) The “mask wars” had been tamped down by State mandates, but détente has ended in the “open” States. What does this mean for workplaces?

Continue Reading What to Do About Workplace Masking in the “Open” States

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)

In its first opinion letter of 2021, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) addressed a hot topic that seems to frequently trip up employers: exemption from the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The DOL’s opinion letters are official, written opinions by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division that respond to fact-specific scenarios.  In this letter, the DOL considered whether account managers employed by a life science products manufacturer are exempt under the FLSA’s administrative employee exemption.  Although the DOL’s conclusion is limited to the particular set of facts presented, this letter serves as helpful guidance for any employer that employs individuals in an account manager role.

Continue Reading Are Your Account Managers Properly Classified as Exempt Under the FLSA?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have implemented flexible work schedules for a litany of reasons including, for example, to limit the number of employees in the office at any given time, to allow employees to obtain medical care for themselves and their family members, and simply to give employees the opportunity to handle the new, daily challenges brought about by this pandemic.  As a result, many employees find themselves splitting their time between working from home and working from the office – sometimes on alternating days, and sometimes in the course of a single day.  This practice, which is by no means new, but has certainly become more prevalent over the past year, raises the question as to whether travel time on a partial telework day is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Continue Reading Paying Employees for Travel Time on A Partial Telework Day?  The U.S. Department of Labor Weighs in…