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!

Determining pay based on gender is wrong. It’s also pernicious. The domino effect of an inappropriately depressed starting wage can impact pay for one’s lifetime. It’s also illegal under Federal and State anti-discrimination laws; pay decisions must be based on the job, not protected characteristics, including a person’s gender. Beyond these laws, which often address alleged violations after-the-fact, pay equity increasingly is being dealt with by State laws prohibiting inquiries about past salary and/or that require employers to provide applicants with salary ranges for the job they are seeking. The goal is to head off discrimination and stop the dominos from tumbling toward a lifetime of depressed wages. All of these laws are premised on the statistics that show women earn roughly 83 % of wages earned by men.

Continue Reading Pay Equity – What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose?

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

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

Following one federal court’s stay limited only to certain states (as discussed in our November 2021 E-Update), another federal court in Louisiana has now granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Interim Final Rule containing a vaccine mandate issued on November 5, 2021 (as discussed in our November 8, 2021 E-lert). This mandate requires workers of most federally-funded healthcare entities to receive their first shot by December 6, 2021 and their second by January 4, 2022. The injunction states explicitly that it “immediately enjoins and restrains the Government…from implementing the mandate.”

Continue Reading Court Enjoins CMS’s Vaccine Mandate for Medicare and Medicaid-Certified Providers

On November 12, 2021, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit extended the temporary stay it had previously placed on the OSHA vax-or-test Emergency Temporary Standard, pending further judicial review of a request (one of many) to permanently enjoin OSHA from enforcing the ETS.  Describing the ETS as a scheme under which employers would be “deputized to participate in OSHA’s regulatory scheme…by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road[,]” the Court described a litany of statutory defects with the ETS and questioned its constitutionality.

While the details of the opinion make for interesting reading and provide a potential roadmap for a permanent injunction of the ETS, the question for employers remains the same: Should we still prepare for the ETS to be implemented?  The answer to that question is the same as it was yesterday (and as we further explained in our November 9, 2021 blog post): likely so.  Although the ETS is temporarily stayed, the temporary stay is precarious.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit’s Stay of OSHA’s Vax-or-Test ETS Remains in Place – For Now

Is it in effect or not? Do employers have to comply or not? Yes, everyone is confused. So here’s a quick overview of the very messy situation.

As you all undoubtedly know by now, on November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the promised/threatened Emergency Temporary Standard compelling employers with 100+ employees to require employees to be either (1) vaccinated or (2) subject to weekly testing and face covering mandates. (We wrote about the ETS in detail here).  The ETS took effect on November 5, although it set a December 6, 2021 compliance deadline for everything but the testing requirement, which has a January 4, 2022 deadline.
Continue Reading Wait – What Is Going On With the Vax-or-Test ETS?!!

The White House and the Task Force have softened the December 8, 2021 vaccination compliance deadline for federal contractors and subcontractors. (Big sigh of relief). And provided a little more guidance on employees with exemptions at federal worksites.
Continue Reading Hey Federal Contractors – There’s Flexibility on that Vaccination Deadline (And Some More Info About Exemptions)