In a decision impacting all employers covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), a federal court upended some of the employer-friendly limitations set forth in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) implementing regulations (i.e. the “Final Rule”): (1) the work-availability requirement, (2) the broad exemption for health care providers, (3) the employer approval of intermittent leave, and (4) the documentation requirement. Below, we first summarize the Court’s decision and then discuss the practical effect of this decision on employers.

Continue Reading Federal Court Vastly Expands FFCRA Paid Leave Mandate – What This Actually Means for Covered Employers

In light of the global racial justice movement, I know that all major (and most not-so-major) corporations are thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion right now. They are promoting DE&I initiatives in the workplace, and proudly trumpeting their activities to their workforce and the public. And that’s good, because this is an important issue. But what’s not good is when companies rush in blindly, because those anti-discrimination initiatives can (ironically) end up violating the anti-discrimination laws!

Continue Reading Hey CEOs – Be Careful About Diversity Hiring Quotas!

On July 21, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) issued what it described as “a long overdue” decision eliminating unwarranted protection for employees who engage in obscene, racist, and sexually harassing behavior under the guise of protected concerted activity.

Continue Reading NLRB Catches Up To The #MeToo and #BLM Movements

I was distracted from all things COVID by a judge in New York who defended his use of the “C” word to describe a female attorney with the explanation that he meant it as a compliment! Let’s pause for a moment, shall we? That level of twisted logic defies all rational thought. Particularly from a judge – someone we generally (and reasonably) expect to exhibit and promote appropriate behaviors (which includes not being sexist. Just saying.)

Continue Reading Let’s Be Clear – The “C” Word Is Not a Compliment

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?

The killing of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, was a tragic moment in our country’s history.  It has sparked weeks of public protests in cities and states across the U.S.  Individuals have gone to the streets to voice their concerns about the issues of racial injustice in American society.  While police brutality may be at the forefront, the movement is aimed at shedding light on all areas of racial inequality.  Many high-profile figures, from politicians to stars to professional athletes, have been vocal about their condemnation of racial bias.  They have further indicated in no uncertain terms that any individual, company, or organization that remains silent on issues of racial inequality is in fact complacent and part of the problem.

Continue Reading The Important Role Employers Play in Addressing Racism in Light of the George Floyd Tragedy

As the United States still struggles with testing capacity for active COVID-19 infections, employers are increasingly asking “may we require our employees be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies?” This is particularly true following the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s position that employers were permitted to test for the presence of active COVID-19 infection, set forth in its What You Should Know About COVID-19 resource (Q&A 6).

Continue Reading COVID-19 Antibody Testing:  Useful Screening Tool or Impermissible Medical Examination?

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

As businesses slowly begin to reopen, workers are being recalled to the workplace. Some of them are expressing reluctance to return due to increased health risks from COVID-19 based on underlying medical conditions or age. Others are struggling with child care issues as schools remain closed for the remainder of the academic year and summer care programs are canceled. Some employers have asked what are their obligations to such workers under the law? Can they terminate them, or do they have to accommodate them?

Continue Reading Recalled Workers Don’t Want to Return Because of Health Risks or Child Care – Now What?

On April 24, 2020, Governor Hogan issued “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,” his plan for reopening the state as the COVID-19 pandemic crisis begins to ease. This plan is of critical interest and importance to Maryland employers, and we outline the plan here. This Roadmap is quite general in nature, as would be expected, given that there are many moving parts in play. But it provides some overall guidance as to the order in which certain businesses can expect to resume operations.

Continue Reading What Does Governor Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery Mean for Maryland Employers?