As we discussed in our May 14, 2021 blog post, “Back to Normal for the Fully Vaccinated? What the CDC’s Latest Guidance Means for Employers,” the CDC had previously stated that fully-vaccinated individuals could essentially resume their pre-pandemic, maskless lifestyles, subject to applicable state or local mandates. But the CDC also stated that those individuals were still required to comply with workplace requirements. Given the rapid spread of COVID-19’s Delta variant and the increase in cases, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates, the CDC has now revised its guidance. So what does this mean for employers?
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has released an opinion (originally prepared on July 6, 2021 for the Deputy Counsel to the President) definitively stating that the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) statute, under which current COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “does not prohibit entities from imposing vaccination requirements” including “to return to work or be hired into a new job.” Although good news for employers wishing to impose such mandates (particularly in light of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s approval of such mandates under federal anti-discrimination laws, as discussed in our May 28, 2021 E-lert), they should keep in mind that such guidance is not necessarily determinative. And they should also consider any state vaccine restrictions.
As our two major political parties wage battle in statehouses around the country regarding the ways in which citizens cast their votes, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seems primed to implement electronic voting (“e-voting”) in union elections. E-voting has long been on Labor’s wish list. As we transition out of a pandemic that significantly reduced the number of manual (read: in-person, onsite) representation elections, it appears that the Democratic-controlled Board and Congress are prepared to dedicate resources to add an e-voting system to the Board’s manual and mail-ballot election processes.
On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed a wide-ranging Executive Order intended to promote competition in the American economy. The E.O. contains 72 initiatives across the whole of government, several of which have a direct employment impact – specifically on non-compete agreements, occupational licensing requirements, and wage-sharing activities between employers.
Last month, the Tweet below went viral:
“I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I’ve just been asked in a job interview if I used lockdown ‘to pursue any passion projects or personal development.’”
Please, employers, I beg of you— find a different trendy interview question.
As healthcare employers should know, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) (extensively discussed in our June 15, 2021 blog post), which became effective on June 21, 2021 . The ETS imposes significant responsibilities and obligations on those employers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it also teased that OSHA was providing significant resources (including a model plan) to assist with compliance, although most of those resources were nowhere to be found on the OSHA website – until now!
Coining a new acronym (which we are not sure how to pronounce), the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced new resources regarding LGBTQ+ workplace rights on June 14, 2021 – the anniversary of the landmark Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” in employment encompasses sexual orientation and transgender status.
In conjunction with updating its COVID-19 guidance for employers generally (discussed in a prior E-lert), on June 10, 2021, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a long-awaited COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) – but limited its coverage only to employers providing healthcare services or healthcare support services. The ETS imposes significant responsibilities and obligations on those employers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – much of which healthcare entities are already doing. But there are a few surprises as well.
On June 10, 2021, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued updated guidance for businesses on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation – taking into account the impact of vaccinations – along with a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable only to healthcare (which is not discussed in this E-lert).
NOTE: This post has been updated for guidance from the Maryland DOL on paid leave under the Essential Workers Protection Act.
Workplace guidance on COVID-19 keeps shifting at the federal and state level, which poses a challenge for all employers. For Maryland businesses, we thought it might be helpful to summarize where we stand as of early June 2021.
Although Maryland remains in a state of emergency, at this time, the Governor has lifted many of the restrictions that impact the private workplace, such as shutdown orders, most masking requirements, group limitations, travel, etc. This does not mean a return to normal, however, as federal guidance still applies, and more state guidance should be forthcoming shortly. In addition, local jurisdictions, such as Baltimore City, may still have restrictions – like masking while indoors – with which employers must comply.