Q: Are there any new laws or regulations that I should know about as we enter 2021?

A: The year 2020 undoubtedly presented many challenges to employers in keeping up with seemingly ever-changing laws and regulations, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic that swept our nation. As employers leave the previous year behind and begin focusing on what will follow in 2021, it is important to be mindful of various significant labor and employment law changes — in addition to those specifically related to COVID-19. Below are summaries of key non-COVID-related issues that employers should know about now and in the year ahead.

Continue Reading Goodbye 2020! A Look Ahead to Non-COVID Labor and Employment Updates for 2021

Q: What issues should my business begin to address so that when COVID-19 vaccines are ready for distribution, we will be ready?

A: On a nearly daily basis, Americans hear promising news about vaccine developments that will help protect us from COVID-19. As the reality of a safe, effective, and accessible vaccine draws closer, industries and businesses across the country have started developing their own COVID-19 vaccine strategies. These entities have quickly discovered that any vaccine policy implemented will raise complicated questions not previously faced. While historic annual influenza vaccine strategies are informative, COVID-19 vaccine issues bring new challenges because of the sheer magnitude of the pandemic and the unique issues surrounding the pace of development and distribution. Businesses should proactively address these issues now so when the COVID-19 vaccines are ready for distribution, they will be too.
Continue Reading When the COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives, Will Your Business Be Ready?

Q: Our company has several locations in New Jersey where our employees work in proximity to customers and vendors. Can you please provide details on Governor Murphy’s recent order implementing new workplace health and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: On October 28, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order establishing new health and safety requirements for employers with employees who are physically present in the workplace. Effective November 5, the order establishes minimum standards for all public and private employers to protect employees, customers, and others who are present in the workplace.
Continue Reading New Jersey’s Executive Order Addresses COVID-19 and Workplace Safety

Q: Can you provide an overview of Election Day 2020 ballot measures approved by voters that may impact the workplace?

A: While President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over incumbent President Donald Trump dominated Election Day 2020, voters also approved various ballot measures that will have repercussions for workplaces throughout the nation. Below find a summary of some of the biggest employment-related ballot measures approved by voters.

Continue Reading Voters Nationwide Approve Ballot Measures Impacting the Workplace

Q: What is the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that significantly expands the definition of “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining requirements. Previously, the CDC defined “close contact” to include only certain individuals who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with COVID-19. Because this previous definition was in place before the CDC issued its mask guidance, many, including employers, inferred that “close contact” meant contact without any face coverings.

Continue Reading Too Close for Comfort: CDC’s Latest Guidance Significantly Expands the Definition of “Close Contact”

Q: I understand the New York Department of Labor recently released guidance interpreting the New York State Sick Leave Law. What are the key takeaways? Did the guidance answer the questions left open by the legislation?

A: As discussed in our previous post, the New York Sick Leave Law (NYSLL) went into effect on September 30 for accrual purposes, and employees may start using the sick leave on January 1, 2021. The New York Department of Labor recently issued general guidance on its website, and also issued an FAQ document (referred to together as “guidance” for purposes of this post).

Despite the volume of material released, the guidance does not clearly address most of the key questions left open by the NYSLL.  Instead, the guidance focuses on topics already covered in the text of the law (e.g., the definition of family member) and on relatively straightforward questions, such as whether an individual may use sick leave for routine dentist and eye doctor appointments (which is allowed because those are considered preventative medical care).

Continue Reading New York Releases Guidance on Paid Sick Leave; Key Questions Remain Unanswered

In 2011 and 2013, Peri Domante’s personal information was stolen and fraudulently used to open two accounts with Dish Networks, LLC (“Dish”), a provider of television services. After being alerted to the fraud, Domante sued Dish for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).  The parties settled the lawsuit.  As part of the agreement, Dish promised to flag Domante’s Social Security number to preclude further unauthorized attempts to obtain Dish services. To implement this provision, Dish entered Domante’s personal information, including her date of birth and Social Security number, into an internal system designed to prevent unauthorized accounts from being opened. Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Weighs in on FCRA “Legitimate Business Purpose,” Affirms Dismissal in Favor of Defendant Who Accessed Credit Report to Verify Identity and Eligibility

Q: What do I need to know about conducting workplace diversity and racial sensitivity training in light of Executive Order 13950?

Conscientious employers understand the importance of offering training to their workforces on diversity, equal employment opportunity, and unlawful discrimination and harassment prevention. Many employers are reviewing and refreshing their training programs considering recent social justice activities and the Black Lives Matter movement, and still more have issued related public statements regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. But some of these employers (federal contractors) were thrown for a loop when President Trump issued Executive Order 13950 on September 22, titled “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.”

The executive order, which seeks to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” and end so-called “divisive concepts” promulgated in workplace employee trainings, prohibits certain covered government contractors from conducting diversity and inclusion trainings that cover topics suggesting people of a certain race or gender are “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The order applies to all contractors and subcontractors covered by Executive Order 11246 and over whom Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has jurisdiction. It does not define or limit the term “contractor.” Thus, it appears that the new training requirements apply to all employees of a covered contractor, not only those in the division that transacts business with the federal government.

Many questions remain about the executive order’s implications, including whether it will survive legal challenges or the upcoming presidential election.  For the time being, however, Executive Order 13950 is in effect, and the OFCCP has confirmed that its requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors will apply to contracts entered into on or after November 21, 2020. Continue Reading Diversity, Equity, and Racial Sensitivity Training After Executive Order 13950

Q: What should my company know about employers’ voting leave obligations?

A: With Election Day only a few weeks away, now is a great time for a refresher on employers’ voting leave obligations. Federal law does not require giving employees time off to vote, but most states (30 at last count) provide employees with the right to take time off from work to vote. Continue Reading Employer Voting Leave Obligations

Q: What do I need to know about the proposed federal rule on independent contractor classification?

A: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule, making it easier for workers to be classified as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

When evaluating independent contractor classifications under the FLSA, courts traditionally have applied the “economic realities” test, which relies on balancing seven factors. However, this has resulted in inconsistent court rulings and confusion among companies and individuals. The DOL’s proposed rule adopts a modified version of this test, focusing on certain factors, while clarifying others. Continue Reading DOL Proposes New Rule Clarifying Independent Contractor Status