Showing posts with label Covid-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Covid-19. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Remote work as a reasonable accommodation

A former UCLA employee has sued the university, claiming that if fired him in retaliation for requesting to continue to work from home after its "work from home" order ended.

According to his complaint, the 23-year employee, who last worked as a mechanic in the physical sciences machine shop, suffers from disabilities that affect his arms and hands. The lawsuit alleges that his supervisor denied his request to continue working from home after Covid work from home orders ended, despite most other employees continuing to work remotely. After the university later laid him off, he sued.

Courts are generally in agreement on two things related to remote work as a reasonable accommodation: 1) regular, in-person work is an essential function of most jobs; and 2) remote work as a reasonable accommodation is a highly fact-specific inquiry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The most metal employment law update ever!

Two of the most famous bands in the history of heavy metal are each facing lawsuits from former tour workers.

The family of a Kiss guitar tech, who died while quarantining in 2021 after contracting Covid while on tour with the band, is suing the band for wrongful death. According to a prior investigation by Rolling Stone, Kiss allegedly maintained lax Covid protocols on the tour in question — including a lack of testing and lots of crew members falling ill — that contributed to the roadie's death.

Meanwhile, an ex-tour photographer is suing Guns N' Roses for copyright infringement and sexual harassment. She claims that the band claimed ownership over numerous of her photos and used them in print and digital media, ad campaigns, and other outlets. She also alleges that the band's manager made "numerous unwelcome sexual advances" toward her and "committed consistent pervasive sexual harassment" in a "workplace environment that was completely devoid of any sexual harassment policy, sexual harassment handbook, sexual harassment training, and human resource department."

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

If you bet on which of your employees will get Covid, you probably shouldn’t qualify for a bonus

In late 2020, Tyson Foods fired seven of its pork processing plant managers after they were caught betting on which of their employees would next get sick with Covid. At that time, more than 1,000 Tyson employees had fallen ill, and six had died. In announcing the firings, the company's President and CEO said, "The behaviors exhibited by these individuals do not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth. Now that the investigation has concluded, we are taking action based on the findings."

Not content with leaving well enough alone, five of the seven fired managers sued Tyson Foods claiming that the company owed them a bonus payment pursuant to the company's Annual Incentive Plan. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Are we really still talking about masks?

In-N-Out burgers are mid. Its employment practices are even worse.  

The restaurant chain is prohibiting employees in five states from wearing masks unless they receive a medical note from a doctor. 

The new rules apply to employees in five red or purple states — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. Meanwhile, employees in two blue states — Oregon and California — may still opt to wear a mask as long as it's a company-approved N95. 

According to a company-wide memo, these new rule are designed to "emphasize the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates' smiles and other facial features." 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

“Geographical discrimination” is NOT a thing

"If you don’t relocate and return to in-person work, we’re going to have to let you go." Many employers are having this very conversation with their remote employees. Some employees who want to continue working remotely are starting to push back.

According to a recent report, employees are considering suing their employers for geographical discrimination

Workers who moved to another city, state, or even country from their employer's main office during the pandemic are claiming that they're being discriminated against geographically by being forced to return to in-person work.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

EEOC issues its final updates to its Covid-19 guidance

With the Covid-19 National and Public Health Emergencies now concluded, the EEOC just published what should be its final updates to its COVID-19 technical assistance, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.

These updates address employers' ongoing obligations to employees related to Covid-19 in the workplace.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

6th Circuit confirms that private employers can do private employer things

Four employees of the J.M. Smucker Company sought religious exemptions from the company's Covid vaccine mandate. When the company refused, they sued, claiming that the mandate infringed on their First Amendment religious liberties.

The 6th Circuit easily concluded that the 1st Amendment does not apply to J.M. Smucker or limits its power to regulate its workplace as it is a private company, not a federal, state, or local government.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Reasonable accommodations are for actual disabilities, not unhinged conspiracies

If I've learned one thing from my 25+ years of practicing law it's that when a court describes your arguments as a "rambling and hyperbolic tirade," your goose is cooked. 

This is the story of Meltzer v. The Trial Court of the Commonwealth, by John Bello, Administrator

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Muckenfuss makes a mask fuss

Michael Muckenfuss worked in maintenance at a Tyson Fresh Meats facility. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, the town's mayor instituted an executive order mandating the wearing of masks, which Tyson enforced inside the workplace. Muckenfuss presented Tyson with a note from his health care provider requesting that he wear a cloth mask with a filter instead of a surgical mask as a reasonable accommodation for his asthma. Tyson agreed to the accommodation. Muckenfuss later sued, however, claiming that Tyson kept the mask mandate in place, along with his filtered mask, after the Covid executive order expired.  

He brought his claim not under the ADA, but under a provision of the Indiana Code that prohibits an employer from requiring as a condition of employment that an employee implant, inject, ingest, inhale, or incorporate an acoustic, optical, mechanical, electronic, medical, or molecular device into their body. Muckenfuss claimed that the face mask qualified as a such a device, and that Tyson violated the statute by requiring that he wear it on his face. 

The trial court had little difficulty in dismissing this claim.

This statute was aimed to prohibit the introduction of a device "into" the body. Wearing a mask on one's face isn't that.… Mr. Muckenfuss invites an interpretation that would render this statute absurd.… [H]is interpretation would suddenly prohibit all sorts of sensible mandates by employers. No longer could a company require a bleeding employee from wearing a bandage or band-aid "against" his wound. No longer could a company require an employee to wear a protective glove, or work boots, or goggles, or many types of personal protective equipment because they were likewise designed to be used "against" the body.

As this case illustrates, any employee can sue their employer for some alleged legal violation for just about any employment decision. The issue isn't whether you can be sued, but whether the decisions you made put you in the best position to defend that lawsuit if and when it comes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The CDC is the tail wagging the public’s dog

Last week the CDC updated its Covid isolation guidelines. The agency says it's "to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk." 

Most importantly, there is no longer any distinction between those who are fully vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated against the virus. Instead, the CDC says anyone can end isolation after five days if asymptomatic or if fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms are improving. Thereafter, one should mask around others either through day 10 or sooner after two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Court dismisses employees’ race discrimination claims against Whole Foods based on prohibition of BLM masks

A group of Black and non-Black Whole Foods employees claimed that their employer unlawfully discriminated against them because of their race and their association with people because of their race based on their employer's prohibition of the wearing of "Black Lives Matter" face masks starting in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Mask mandates might be gone, but maskual harassment isn’t

Workplaces, state and local governments, and the CDC have relegated mask mandates to the dustbin of Covid history. But just because people are no longer required to wear masks anywhere doesn't mean that some people aren't choosing to do so on their own. The end of mask mandates, however, has not ended the culture wars that have surrounded mask for the past two-plus years.

According to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 56% of Americans still favor mask mandates on planes, trains, and public transportation, 49% for workers who interact with the public in restaurants and other places, and also 49% for crowded public events. (My own poll on LinkedIn revealed a smaller 36% still in favor of mask mandates on planes and public transportation.)

That leaves a large swath of America strongly entrenched against masks. And some are still expressing their opposition in less than constructive means.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Just because “caregiver” isn’t a protected class doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes illegal to discriminate against them

No matter how many times you read our federal workplace anti-discrimination laws, you won't find the word "caregiver" among the litany of protected classes. Yet, it has been clear since the earliest days of this blog that in the proper circumstances "caregiver discrimination" is illegal.

Earlier this week the EEOC updated its Covid-19 guidance to discuss these caregiver-related issues.

Caregiver discrimination violates the laws enforced by the EEOC if it is based on an applicant’s or employee’s sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), race, national origin, disability, age (40 or older), or another characteristic covered by federal employment discrimination laws. Caregiver discrimination also is unlawful if it is based on the caregiver’s association with an individual with a disability, or on the race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristic of the individual receiving care.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Brewery CEO out after backlash to controversial vaccine comments

Vaccine mandates are a crime against humanity.

If you are not speaking out against them, you are a conspirator.
Those are the words Josh Stylman, the co-founder and now former CEO of Brooklyn, New York's Threes Brewing, recently shared on his personal Twitter account. He's also compared vaccine mandates to Jim Crow laws, the Nazi regime, and other historical atrocities. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

I’m not quite ready to declare the pandemic over, but I am ready to stop writing about it every single day

Nearly two years ago, I re-branded the Ohio Employer Law Blog as the Coronavirus Law Blog. It was a bit of marketing combined with the realization that Covid would be all that mattered to employers, at least in the short term.

That "short term" will turn two years old in nine days.

Today, however, I am officially re-re-branding the blog back to the Ohio Employer Law Blog.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Coronavirus Update 2-28-22: CDC eliminates mask guidance for 70% of Americans

The CDC has issued new mask guidance based on the level of Covid-19 in a specific county. 

  • In counties with a low level of Covid (green) — individuals are permitted to remove masks.
  • In counties with a medium level of Covid (yellow) — individuals who are at high risk for severe illness are recommended to talk to their healthcare provider about whether they need to wear a mask and take other safety precautions.
  • In counties with a high level of Covid (red) — individuals are recommended to wear a mask indoors in public.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

I hate “Tattleware”

I thought I had my next Worst Employer nominee. News broke yesterday of the mass exodus of employees from real estate company CoStar after allegations came to light of the company spying on work-from-home employees through the cameras on the company-issued laptops. I even had the post written. 

But in further researching the issue I came across this story that ran yesterday on the Today Show: 'Tattleware': How your boss might be tracking your remote activity

Its use skyrocketed as most companies switched to a work-from-home model during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday, February 21, 2022

This dissenting opinion in the United Airlines vaccine-mandate case is 58 pages of pure judicial rage

It's been a little over three months since a federal district court in Forth Worth, Texas, denied a preliminary injunction to a group of unvaccinated employees of United Airlines challenging its vaccine mandate. The court so ruled because the employees, whom United had placed on an unpaid leave of absence, had a viable claim for money damages and with that adequate legal remedy couldn't simultaneously seek an equitable remedy. 

It's been a little over two months since a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to issue an injunction pending the appeal of that district court decision. 

Late last week, however, a different three-judge panel of that same appellate court concluded that the employees had established irreparable harm to support their claim for injunctive relief and sent the case back to the district court to reconsider its prior ruling in light of that holding.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Coronavirus Update 2-1-22: I just gave my kids the worst business trip souvenir ever

In the before times, when I actually traveled for business, I'd always try to come home with a souvenir for the kids. A t-shirt, a stuffed animal, something small, but at least something so they knew I was thinking about them when I was gone.

Two weeks ago, I got to travel for work again — this time to Cincinnati for the annual Ohio Craft Brewers Conference. Never fear, I did not forget to bring home a souvenir for the kids. While certainly memorable, it's one that they would certainly rather forget.

I brought them Covid-19. 😥🦠🤒

Thankfully, our Covid experience was mild and we all survived with varying degrees of minor symptoms along with five days of isolation. 

On this week's episode of The Norah and Dad Show, Norah and I talk about our experience with Omicron. We discuss how we handled having the virus, life during isolation, what we missed from the past 22 months of trying to act responsibly, and what we’re looking forward to doing now that we have our super-immunity. We also discuss the dangers of late-night milkshake deliveries and, notwithstanding, how ice cream makes everything better.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify (yes, we're still there, even though Joe Rogan spews dangerous garbage), Google Podcasts, the old-fashioned web browser, and wherever you get your podcasts.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Coronavirus Update 1-31-22: Employees should not be choosing between their jobs and working while ill

I return to the office today after a one-week Covid-inducted work-from-home hiatus. I'm fortunate that as a professional I have the ability and flexibility to work from home when needed. Many too many employees, however, do not have that luxury.

Consider, for example, this report from Business Insider, that 63 percent of Red Lobster employees came to work while sick with Covid-19, either because they lacked paid sick leave or because they couldn't find anyone to cover their shifts.