On Monday, September 6, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the Commissioner of Health has designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” under the New York State HERO Act. As we previously reported, the HERO Act requires all employers in New York to implement certain safety standards and adopt a prevention plan to protect against the spread of airborne infectious diseases in the workplace. Now that COVID-19 has received such a designation, employers across the state must now “promptly” take certain steps to activate their plans and ensure compliance.

According to the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, once such as designation is made, each employer must:

  1. Immediately review the worksite’s exposure prevention plan and update the plan, if necessary, to ensure that it incorporates current information, guidance, and mandatory requirements;
  2. Finalize and promptly activate the worksite exposure prevention plan;
  3. Provide a verbal review of the plan; and
  4. Provide each employee with a copy of the exposure prevention plan, post a copy of the plan in a visible and prominent location at each worksite, and ensure that a copy is accessible to employees during all shifts.

While the designation remains in effect, each employer shall ensure that the plan is followed by:

  1. Assigning enforcement responsibilities to one or more supervisory employees;
  2. Monitoring and maintaining exposure controls; and
  3. Regularly checking for updated information from the New York State Department of Health and CDC, and updating the plan as necessary.

We are closely monitoring for developments from the State and will provide updates as they become available.

* * *

Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Harris Mufson Harris Mufson

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor…

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor to clients in a wide range of industries regarding significant employment issues. Harris has vast expertise in employment matters, representing employers in disputes regarding discrimination and retaliation, whistleblowing, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants. In addition to litigating, Harris counsels clients on compliance with employment-related laws, as well as the development, implementation and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures. Additionally, he has conducted numerous internal investigations regarding sensitive employment matters.

Photo of Laura M. Fant Laura M. Fant

Laura Fant is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department.

She frequently counsels on matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act, including disability accommodation in the workplace and public accommodations. She is experienced…

Laura Fant is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department.

She frequently counsels on matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act, including disability accommodation in the workplace and public accommodations. She is experienced in conducting accessibility audits and providing ADA and accessibility training for clients in a variety of sectors that include retail, hospitality, sports and not-for-profit. She also handles general employment counseling and has experience in reviewing and updating employee handbooks and company policies under federal and state law.

Photo of Alex Downie Alex Downie

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned…

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Virginia Law & Business Review. He also volunteered for the school’s employment law clinic, where he assisted with a variety of employment-related matters ranging from employment discrimination to wage and hour disputes.