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?

The Centers for Disease Control recently updated its guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting, including those that apply to employers.  These guidelines address proper disinfectant techniques and solutions, and specifically advise how to clean soft surfaces (i.e., carpeted floors, rugs, and drapes), electronics, and laundry.  The CDC’s guidelines also address the appropriate steps to take if an individual in your building or facility tests positive for COVID-19.
Continue Reading Updated Workplace Cleaning Guidelines from the CDC and a New OSHA Poster!

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.

Continue Reading NLRB Issues Final Joint Employer Rule, Making Such Findings Less Likely

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.

Continue Reading Methadone User Can Sue Under ADA

Several years ago, I blogged about Emeryville, California’s paid sick leave ordinance, which  is the only sick leave law that allows employees to take leave specifically to care for a sick service animal. As I noted then, “[t]he concept makes sense – employees can take sick leave because they (or their family member) is temporarily incapacitated because of the illness of the [service animal]. (Not because the dog is a family member!).” I also wondered whether other jurisdictions would adopt similar provisions. But now, I’m not sure they have to.

Continue Reading Sick Leave for Service Animals?

In a study published in 2000, two professors – one from Princeton, the other from Harvard –concluded that blind auditions exponentially increased the probability of female musicians being selected for seats on major symphony orchestras. In blind auditions, musicians play from behind screens, thus removing the distraction of the person, including the person’s race, age or (the focus of the study) gender. The study collected data from eight symphony orchestras over four decades. The problem is, according to a Wall Street Journal article, the data presented a “tangle of contradictory trends” that did not support the unequivocal bottom line presented by the authors. Indeed, “[t]he paper includes multiple warnings about small sample sizes, contradictory results and failures to pass standard tests of statistical significance. But few readers seem to have noticed. What caught everyone’s attention was a big claim in the final paragraph.”

Continue Reading Behind the Blind Selection Screen