Law and the Workplace

Quick Hit:  Employees in the District of Columbia are currently eligible for paid and unpaid COVID-19 related leave under measures that temporarily expand the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (“DCFMLA”) and D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (“ASSLA”). Key Takeaway:  D.C. employers now must navigate an additional set of paid and unpaid leave requirements.  D.C. employers should review these new requirements and update their policies to reflect these temporary measures. More Detail: As we previously reported, in March 2020 the District of Columbia passed the D.C. COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, which expanded DCFMLA to…
Quick Hit As we previously reported, Virginia became the first state to issue mandatory COVID-19 workplace safety rules when the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (“VSHCB”) approved an emergency temporary standard on July 15, 2020.  The final text has now been released and the new rules, which apply to most private employers, went into effect July 27, 2020.  Employers who fail to comply may be subject to fines of up to $13,494 for a “serious” violation and up to $134,937 for a “repeat” or “willful” violation. Key Takeaways Virginia’s new rules are quite detailed.  The new mandatory…
As we have previously reported, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) continues to update its COVID-19 guidance. Most recently, on July 20, 2020, the DOL issued additional Q and A guidance related to COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). These latest publications not only offer new guidance, but also update prior DOL guidance. FLSA Guidance The latest FLSA guidance addresses compensable time and exempt status issues as they relate to telework, as well as hazard pay (or the lack thereof under…
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now issued its second set of coronavirus-related citations, this time against an Ohio health-care company.  OSHA inspected three of the company’s nursing facilities from April to June after the company reported the coronavirus-related hospitalization of seven employees.  On July 21, 2020, OSHA announced that it issued citations to each of the three locations with “Serious” violations for failing to develop a comprehensive written respiratory protection program and failing to provide medical evaluations to determine employees’ ability to use a respirator in the workplace.  OSHA additionally issued a…
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“the Act”) into law. Beginning next year (or later for small employers), the Act will require employers in Colorado to provide employees with up to six paid sick days a year – and more if there is a public health emergency. The Act also extends immediate COVID-related paid sick leave protections to employees not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Colorado now joins 12 other states (plus numerous counties and cities) that have passed statewide paid sick laws. Effective immediately through…
Quick Hit Virginia became the first state to issue mandatory COVID-19 workplace safety rules when the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (“VSHCB”) approved an emergency temporary standard on July 15, 2020 by a 9-2 vote.  The final text has not yet been published but the mandatory requirements are expected to include obligations surrounding flexible sick leave policies, the promotion of social distancing, policies to identify workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, and policies to determine when workers known or suspected to have had COVID-19 are able to return to the workplace. Key Takeaways The…
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has released new and significantly revised versions of its model notice of rights, certification, and designation forms under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). According to a press release by the DOL, the new forms, which are now currently in effect and can be found on the DOL’s website, seek to “streamline” the prior forms by making them “simpler and easier for employees, employers, leave administrators and healthcare providers to understand and use.” As discussed in a prior blog when changes to the forms were first being proposed, the revisions do…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published additional frequently asked questions regarding returning to the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday. We reported on OSHA’s earlier posted FAQs here. Though the FAQs do not impose any new legal requirements, employers should be aware of OSHA’s recommendations as workplaces around the country continue to reopen to workers, customers, and other visitors. Cloth Face Coverings Notably, OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings while at work. OSHA maintains that employers must ensure social distancing in the workplace, even when workers wear cloth face coverings. This recommendation…
On June 18, OSHA issued non-binding guidance to help employers safely reopen non-essential businesses and facilitate their employees’ return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance focuses on employers implementing strategies for five main aspects of the workplace: basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training. As OSHA’s National News Release states, the guidance is meant to supplement the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) and Health and Human Services’ previously issued guidelines regarding reopening workplaces. Foremost, the guidelines note that employers’ reopening plans should align with all applicable requirements, including…
On June 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued Field Assistance Bulletin (“FAB”) No. 2020-4, providing guidance on when an employee may take leave pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) to care for their child whose summer camp, summer enrichment program, or other summer program is closed for COVID-19 related reasons. We first wrote about the FFCRA, which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”), here, and we have followed the WHD’s question and answer guidance (“FAQ”) on…
On July 1, 2020, employees in DC will be able to begin taking Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) pursuant to the DC Paid Family Leave Act (the “Act”).  Here’s a quick primer on what employers need to know ahead of the program’s launch. Eligible Leave Employees who spend more than 50% of their work time in DC may take PFL for: Up to eight weeks for paid parental leave to bond with a new child (“parental leave”) which can be taken within 52 weeks of the date of birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; Up to six weeks…
Effective July 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will pull back on seeking liquidated damages in pre-litigation settlements of wage claims and investigations.  The change in policy, announced in Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-2, is significant, as liquidated damages can equal 100% of the back pay deemed to be owing, potentially resulting in “double damages” for wage violations. The policy change comes on the heels of an executive order President Trump signed in May 2020, directing federal agencies to use deregulatory actions to spur economic activity in light of COVID-19 shutdowns.  In line with that order, the DOL’s…
As the nation continues to move toward reopening, the EEOC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued additional guidance for employers to consider as they plan employees’ return to the workplace. These updates supplement earlier guidance issued by both agencies, which we discuss in our previous posts. EEOC Guidance On June 11, 2020, the EEOC issued additional, revised technical assistance to employers, addressing necessary considerations for employers that have employees returning to the workplace who are at higher risk for more severe illness due to COVID-19. Specifically, the guidance explains that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act…
Amid growing criticism of the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Loren E. Sweatt (“Sweatt”), testified before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee last Wednesday during which she defended the agency’s actions to protect worker safety during the pandemic. Below, we discuss the top three takeaways from Sweatt’s testimony that employers should know. 1.     OSHA Stands By Its Refusal to Issue COVID-19 Specific Regulations Instead of issuing specific regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA has opted to apply existing workplace safety standards and issue industry-specific guidance. The agency has been under…
The proposed Chicago COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) that was the subject of our post on April 27, 2020, has now become law. The Ordinance prohibits Chicago employers from retaliating against employees for obeying a public health order requiring an employee to remain at home as a consequence of COVID-19.  This reflects a growing trend among states and local governments in enacting protections against retaliation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. *      *      * 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…
The CDC has issued interim guidance on antibody testing for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. While the guidance is primarily directed at clinical and public health entities, it does contain some information relevant to employers, educational institutions, and other entities who may be considering whether and to what extent such antibody testing may play a role in its reopening plans. Specifically, the guidance states that, although the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies when detected using a reliable antibody testing method “likely indicates at least some degree of immunity, until the durability and duration of immunity is established, it cannot be…