Once upon a time, employees in all states but Montana (always bucking the establishment!) were presumed to be employed at-will, absent some sort of employment agreement (e.g. individual contract for a term, a collective bargaining agreement, policies that contemplate termination for cause, etc.). That means that either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or even no reason (as long as it’s not illegal – like, say, discrimination or retaliation). And so our well-meaning but foolish Employer is terribly excited by that principle because they want to get rid of an Employee. But … as with all good fairy tales, there is a dark side.Continue Reading At-Will Employment Is a Fairy Tale…
Once again we are poised on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time this happened in 2018, 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), the Wage-Hour Division (WHD) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)), 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 will happen if there is an actual shutdown.Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2023 Edition
On May 1, 2023, President Biden issued a statement announcing the end of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including those impacting federal contractors and CMS-covered healthcare employers, among others. But what impact does this have on employer vaccine mandates?Continue Reading Biden Administration Ends Federal Vaccine Mandates – What This Means for Employers
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
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
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
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
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