As offices and other workplaces reopen, employers are struggling with the issue of masks and face coverings in the workplace. There has been much confusion about whether and when cloth face coverings are required, and what are an employer’s obligations with regard to their use.

Continue Reading Masks/Face Coverings in the Workplace Uncovered! What Can Employers Require?

Several federal agencies have recently issued additional COVID-19 guidance of interest to employers, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Small Business Administration (SBA). We summarize these developments below.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Agency Update: OSHA Issues Guidance on Reopening for Non-Essential Businesses; EEOC Addresses Antibody Testing and Reasonable Accommodations, Harassment and Discrimination; SBA Provides New PPP Application

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a great deal of discussion – and confusion – about the use of masks and face coverings and respirators. Are they personal protective equipment (PPE)? Who should use them? Who must use them? Should employers provide them? Must employers provide them? Which one should employers provide? Should employers provide training on their use? Must employers providing training? And on and on…

Continue Reading OSHA Speaks: Face Coverings, Masks and Respirators – Oh My!

Various federal agencies have recently issued additional COVID-19 guidance of significance (more or less) to employers, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Some of this guidance applies to workplaces and employers generally, while others target specific industries, such as bars and restaurants, manufacturing, child care, schools, and mass transit. We summarize these developments below.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Agency Update: CDC and OSHA Issue Reopening Guidance, EEOC Explains Accommodation of High-Risk Workers, IRS Expands Employee Retention Credit, DOL Adds to FFCRA Q&As, FEMA Provides Exercise Starter Kit for Reopening

During the past week or so, various federal agencies have issued additional COVID-19 guidance of significance (more or less) to employers, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). We summarize these developments below.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Agency Update: CDC and Essential Workers, EEOC and Non-Discrimination, OSHA and COVID-19 Recordkeeping/Enforcement, DOL and Unemployment Compensation Under CARES, and VETS and COVID-19 National Guard Service

The Centers for Disease Control recently updated its guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting, including those that apply to employers.  These guidelines address proper disinfectant techniques and solutions, and specifically advise how to clean soft surfaces (i.e., carpeted floors, rugs, and drapes), electronics, and laundry.  The CDC’s guidelines also address the appropriate steps to take if an individual in your building or facility tests positive for COVID-19.
Continue Reading Updated Workplace Cleaning Guidelines from the CDC and a New OSHA Poster!

Several months ago, OSHA proposed to rescind part of its revised workplace injury and illness reporting rule, which was originally issued in May 2016. The rule contained controversial electronic reporting requirements, which OSHA proposes to rescind for the most part (as we discussed in our July 2018 E-Update). As I mentioned in a recent blog post, OSHA Pre-empts CBA Drug-Testing Provisions?, this action caused me to revisit some older guidance on compliance with the surviving aspects of the rule – including the prohibition on discouraging employees from reporting workplace injuries or illnesses.
Continue Reading OSHA-Compliant Injury Reporting Policies

In light of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recent announcement of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to rescind the majority of its controversial electronic reporting requirements (which we discussed in our July 2018 E-Update), I decided to review some previous guidance on these requirements (yes, because I am that much of a nerd). The requirements had been imposed through a final rule issued in 2016, which also sought to provide additional protections to workers for reporting work-related illnesses and injuries – specifically targeting safety incentive programs and drug-testing programs. I was shocked to realize that OSHA asserts that post-incident drug-testing of employees pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement violates the Occupational Safety and Health Act!
Continue Reading OSHA Pre-empts CBA Drug-Testing Provisions?

Apple has a new $5 billion headquarters building on its campus in Cupertino, California.  It was constructed from the imagination of iconic founder, Steve Jobs, who envisioned the structure with its glass-encased interior and exterior rings as a true “temple of design” (according to the San Francisco Chronicle).  In fact, architecture and interior design often are aspirational.  We construct spaces to reflect not who we are, but who we would like to be, to elevate us from the clutter of our messy lives to a higher plateau.  We seek feng shui – uplifting energy.  Sometimes, however, concept clashes with real life (like when I realized my amazing new master bathroom with the walk in shower and granite counters had no place to hang hand towels; my interior designer thought that towel rings would interrupt the feng shui).

Continue Reading Does Apple’s New HQ Violate OSHA?

Here we are again on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time, during the 2013 federal government shutdown, we provided a summary of the shutdown contingency plans for the major employment-related agencies – the Department of Labor (DOL) (which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage-Hour Division (WHD)), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  So we thought we’d provide you with an updated summary of these plans, which set forth what the agencies will and will not do if there is an actual shutdown.
Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2018 Edition