Law and the Workplace

On January 7, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden announced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for Secretary of Labor. If confirmed, Mayor Walsh would represent a stark contrast to incumbent Labor Secretary, longtime management attorney Eugene Scalia. Walsh served as the president of Laborers’ Union Local 223 prior to being elected Mayor. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka publicly endorsed Walsh for the position of Labor Secretary and praised the selection, underscoring Walsh’s background in organized labor. As Secretary of Labor, Walsh will presumably be tasked with helping to implement a number of Biden administration policy changes, including with respect to…
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which requires that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide sick and family leave benefits for certain COVID-19 related reasons, is due to sunset on December 31, 2020. Many believed that the FFCRA’s sick and family leave provisions would be extended into 2021 as part of the pandemic relief package that was signed by the President on December 27. However, these provisions were ultimately not extended, meaning that employers will not be required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA after December 31, 2020. Despite that the FFCRA’s leave provisions were not…
For Massachusetts employers, or employers with Massachusetts-based employees, Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) has been on the horizon for nearly two years. By now, you have notified your workforce about benefits and contributions, displayed a poster informing them of the same, determined the size of your workforce and who is a “covered individual,” begun making deductions on behalf of eligible employees or applied for a private plan exemption, and more. Next, on January 1st, 2021, employees will become eligible to take leave under the PFML. Employers can prepare by consulting with counsel regarding your obligations, updating employee…
In this episode of The Proskauer Brief, partners Harris Mufson and Evandro Gigante discuss the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent guidance for employers regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. On December 16th, 2020, the EEOC issued updated guidance for employers in light of the FDA’s recent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Widespread vaccinations have been largely perceived as critical in returning all employees to the workplace in a safe manner and allowing employers to resume normal business operations. Tune in as we discuss what many employers should consider regarding requiring employees to be vaccinated before returning to the…
Facing a government shutdown and the expiration of many of the relief programs included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) enacted in March 2020, on December 21, 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package as part of a broader $1.4 trillion government funding bill.  Along with other relief measures, the new legislation includes additional funding for unemployment benefit programs that had previously been funded in the CARES Act. Unemployment Benefits under the CARES Act The CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance benefits available to workers, including through the following three programs: (1) Federal…
On December 16, the EEOC issued updated guidance for employers in light of the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) recent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.  Widespread vaccinations are largely perceived as critical in returning all employees to the workplace safely and resuming normal business operations.  As such, many employers have been grappling with the following question: to what extent can we require, or at least encourage, employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?  The EEOC has now issued guidance clarifying that employers are lawfully permitted to require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office, subject to…
On November 2, 2020, the Eastern District of New York issued a notable decision regarding an employer’s compliance with federal and state public health law during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not the only case of its kind during the pandemic, and we certainly don’t expect that it will be the last as employers should be prepared to defend claims that they did not follow the governing health protocols or otherwise ensure the health and safety of their employees. Relevant Background In Palmer, et al. v. Amazon.Com, Inc., et al., case number 20-cv-2468 (E.D.N.Y. 2020), employees working at an…
New York State has released an informal guidance page, including frequently asked questions, regarding the newly enacted statewide paid sick leave law, which took effect on September 30, 2020. As we have previously reported, the law requires employers with New York employees to provide a certain amount of paid or unpaid sick leave to be used for certain medical and employee safety-related reasons. Specifically, under the new law: employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million in the prior tax year must provide employees with up to 40 hours of…
On October 28, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order addressing health and safety requirements for New Jersey employers that require or permit their workers to be physically present in the office. The Order supplements other guidance that was previously issued for certain industries – including retail, gyms and fitness centers, and child care. Below is a brief summary of what New Jersey employers need to know about the Order. Minimum Health and Safety Protocols. Beginning on Thursday, November 5, all employers that require or permit their workers to be physically present in the office to perform work…
In this episode of The Proskauer Brief, partner Harris Mufson and associate Phil Lebel discuss recent legal developments in California, specifically a new supplemental paid sick leave law and coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure notification requirements. Tune in as we discuss steps employers can take to ensure compliance with these new requirements. Listen to the podcast.  …
Quick Hit:  The temporary expansion of the DC Family and Medical Leave Act to provide D.C. employees up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected “COVID-19 leave” has been extended through October 9, 2020.   The D.C. Office of Human Rights has published an updated notice reflecting the extended effective date, which employers “must post and maintain . . . in a conspicuous place and transmit it to employees working remotely.”  Note that should the Mayor extend the declared COVID-19 public health emergency beyond October 9, 2020, this leave expansion will likely be extended again. More Detail: As we previously reported,…
On September 11, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued revised Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) regulations in response to a federal court decision striking down certain portions of its previous regulations. The FFCRA is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide: (1) two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work for any of six qualifying reasons related to COVID-19, and (2) up to twelve weeks of expanded family and medical leave – at least ten of which must be paid – to employees who need to care for a child…
On September 8, 2020, the EEOC released an updated technical assistance document addressing COVID-19 and the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Our previous posts about the EEOC’s prior COVID-19 guidance are available here and here. The updated guidance includes 18 new questions and answers, most of which were adapted from a webinar conducted by the agency in March. Several other responses have also been updated. Most of the new questions and updates involve three topics: (1) disability-related inquiries and medical examinations, (2) confidentiality of medical information, and (3) reasonable accommodations.…
As we have previously reported, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which remains in effect through December 31, 2020, provides, among other things, that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for their son or daughter if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child’s child care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a Federal, State, or local authorities. The United States Department…
On August 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) updated its guidance on Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Previously, the guidance recommended that travelers self-quarantine for 14 days after: (1) all international travel, and (2) domestic travel to areas with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. The guidance now recommends that travelers “follow state, local, and territorial travel restrictions,” which may include “testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival.” For international travel, the CDC recommends visiting the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the U.S. State Department website for information…
On August 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (“FAB”) providing guidance on employers’ obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to track and pay for the hours of compensable work performed by employees who are working remotely.  While timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the guidance is applicable to all situations where non-exempt employees are working away from a worksite or premises controlled by their employer. It’s long been the law that an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, including work not…