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

Is it in effect or not? Do employers have to comply or not? Yes, everyone is confused. So here’s a quick overview of the very messy situation.

As you all undoubtedly know by now, on November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the promised/threatened Emergency Temporary Standard compelling employers with 100+ employees to require employees to be either (1) vaccinated or (2) subject to weekly testing and face covering mandates. (We wrote about the ETS in detail here).  The ETS took effect on November 5, although it set a December 6, 2021 compliance deadline for everything but the testing requirement, which has a January 4, 2022 deadline.
Continue Reading Wait – What Is Going On With the Vax-or-Test ETS?!!

On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance document, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, to address religious objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a new section to the guidance, the EEOC draws upon previously-existing guidance for religious exemptions generally. While there are no real surprises, the collection of information in the guidance document is helpful.
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance On Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Last week the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury issued joint FAQs that address questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and group health plans.  The FAQs are particularly relevant to those employers considering whether to provide incentives or impose surcharges under their group health plans to encourage employees to become vaccinated.  Here’s what employers need to know:

Continue Reading New Federal Agency Guidance on Vaccine Incentives and Surcharges: What Employers Should Know

As many employers implement a COVID-19 vaccination-or-weekly-testing mandate (soon to be required of all employers with 100+ employees, as we discussed here), a recurring issue is whether the time that employees spend getting that weekly test must be paid under federal and state wage and hours laws. And the answer is a lawyerly, “Well, it depends.” (Of course).

Continue Reading Do Employers Have to Pay For COVID-19 Testing Time?

A day after President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan (which we discussed here), leaders from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a short briefing to discuss its forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard that will require employers with 100+ employees to (1) mandate vaccinations or weekly testing, and (2) provide paid vaccination leave. The President’s announcement regarding these requirements was sorely lacking in details, but the OSHA briefing provided a few (not many) useful tidbits for nervously wondering employers.  (Be aware, however, that the ETS is not yet written, and it is possible that some of what they said today might not end up being accurate….)
Continue Reading A Few More Answers from OSHA on the Impending Vaccination ETS…

An issue that we’ve run into recently is what to do about employees who are vaccinated – but not with one of the FDA-approved vaccines (whether under Emergency Use Authorization (Moderna and J&J) or regular approval (Pfizer-BioNTech)). Perhaps they are participating in a clinical trial or maybe they were vaccinated in another country. Employers are wondering – is this really a valid vaccine? Can we require employees to go get a “real” vaccine?

Continue Reading Foreign COVID Vaccinations and Clinical Trials? What Employers Need to Know

And I’m pretty darned sure that many employers feel the same way. This issue has been coming up a lot lately with the burgeoning requests for medical exemptions in the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  TO BE CLEAR,  I am NOT questioning those employees with actual medical conditions that legitimately prevent them from getting a vaccine – I’m talking about those folks who just don’t want the shot, and get their doctors to write some nonsense note that has no actual basis in medical fact.  And frankly, this has been an issue generally beyond the vaccine. (It even showed up in my recent blog post about the employee who wanted to bring his dog to work).  So what can we do?

Continue Reading I’m Tired of Doctors Who Just Say Whatever the Employee Wants…

Some readers may know that I have an adorable dog. A lifelong dog-hater, we got the dog as a bribe for my son (long story), and now I love the darned thing. There are days that he is the only one in the family that I love. And it’s been great, in this year+ of WFH, to have him nearby at all times.  Many people agree – and some would like to take their fur babies to the office when they return. But, as one court recently explained, that’s only required if the dog is, in fact, a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act – and there must be medical support for such an accommodation.

Continue Reading Love Me, Love My Dog? Maybe Not at Work…