#COVID19InTheWorkplace

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again issued new guidance on August 11, 2022.

The CDC has revised its guidance several times since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  However, this time, some commentators see the latest revisions to the CDC’s updated guidance as signaling a strategic shift in the pandemic.  Many also see it as reaching the new normal given the existence of vaccines, immunity, and treatments. As Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, MMWR author stated, “[t]his guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Continue Reading Have we reached the new normal? The CDC’s Revised COVID-19 Rules

I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment.  Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

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

[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!

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

Throughout the pandemic, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been constantly evolving to reflect changing circumstances. The latest development is a reduction in quarantine and isolation periods under certain circumstances, which will allow employers to bring employees back to work sooner than before and make other adjustments to their COVID protocols.
Continue Reading What the CDC’s Updated Isolation/Quarantine Guidance Means for Employers

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

In our occasional series of outrageous workplace conduct, the marked increase in remote work during the pandemic has created interesting opportunities for employees to engage in some poorly-considered multi-tasking. One that caught some media attention recently involved a Maryland state legislator who attended several legislative voting sessions remotely (that’s fine – everyone did), from an operating room (um… ok? Not really…), during an actual operation (yikes!), in which she was actually performing major surgery! (You can insert your own reaction here. Mine was NSFW).
Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Multitasking … While Performing Surgery

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