As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has declared it a “direct threat,” thereby loosening the restrictions on employee medical testing and inquiries under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It has updated its 2009 pandemic guidance and its “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19” resource accordingly.
Employment lawyers on the management side of the “v” (as in verses for you lucky enough never to have been sued) are hunkered down with our clients on the phone these days. We are figuring out minute by minute how to foretell the COVID-19 future, to determine what the feds will require, what the governors will mandate, and how to balance operational needs, financial insecurity, employee fear, leave from work and needs of clients for services, including vulnerable clients (patients, individuals who need medical equipment after discharge, patrons who need food and prescriptions – all the vital services that we assume are available and that businesses seamlessly provide in normal times).
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. This law makes sweeping changes to an employer’s legal obligations: (1) imposing a paid sick and safe leave (“PSL”) mandate for COVID-19-related reasons on most employers with fewer than 500 employees; (2) temporarily expanding coverage for school and child care closures associated with COVID-19 and imposing a paid leave requirement under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) on these same employers; (3) encouraging states to extend unemployment benefits for reasons associated with COVID-19; and (4) giving a payroll tax credit to employers for the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave mandates.
While we had previously provided a summary of the Act as it was originally passed by the House, and then another on the House’s substantive “technical amendments” to the Act, we are now summarizing the final law here.
On Sunday, March 15, 2020, we provided a comprehensive summary of the paid leave and other employment-related provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 13. This bill makes sweeping changes to an employer’s legal obligations: (1) imposing a paid sick and safe leave (“PSL”) mandate for COVID-19-related reasons on most employers with fewer than 500 employees; (2) temporarily and vastly expanding coverage and imposing a paid leave requirement on these same employers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) for school and child care closures associated with COVID-19; (3) making unemployment benefits available for reasons associated with COVID-19; and (4) giving a tax credit for paid sick and paid family and medical leave.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation providing a wide scope of benefits and rights to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 national emergency. This legislation makes sweeping changes to an employer’s legal obligations: (1) imposing a general paid sick and safe leave mandate on all employers, with additional time for public health emergencies; (2) temporarily and vastly expanding coverage and imposing a paid leave requirement under the Family and Medical Leave Act for reasons associated with COVID-19; (3) making unemployment benefits available for reasons associated with COVID-19; and (4) giving a tax credit for paid sick and paid family and medical leave. Given that President Trump has already tweeted his support for the bill and the Senate is expected to follow suit, it is likely to be enacted in the coming days and would need to be immediately implemented by employers.
This installment in our occasional series of extremely poor judgment by employees illustrates the point that social media has led to the downfall of many an FMLA abuser.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has now directly addressed the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak by issuing “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus.” In this release, the EEOC noted that the rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act (the counterpart to the ADA for federal employees and contractors) still apply, but do not interfere with workplace guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (which we discussed in detail in our February 2020 Top Tip).
The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) announced a Final Rule on joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act that retreats from the broad expansion of the joint employment principle in recent years and returns to its prior, more restrictive standard, which it describes as “carefully balanced.” This Rule will take effect on April 27, 2020.
Apparently yes – at least in New Jersey. In Hager v. M&K Construction, a New Jersey state appellate court recently affirmed a workers’ compensation judge’s order for an employer to reimburse a former employee for his use of medical marijuana for chronic pain following a work-related accident. Continue Reading Must an Employer Pay for Medical Marijuana?
As I discussed in a blog post last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been bringing cases on behalf of applicants/employees who use lawfully prescribed opioids (including methadone) against employers who fail to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant/employee to determine whether those drugs made them unqualified for the position. In EEOC v. Steel Painters LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer did just that.