Showing posts with label coronavirus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coronavirus. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

What employers can expect from Biden’s presidency: A temporary emergency OSHA standard for COVID-19

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the identification of the first COVID-19 case in the United States. On January 20, 2020, the State of Washington and the CDC confirmed that someone in Washington State had contracted the virus. Since then, 24,809,840 additional Americans have contracted Covid, and 411,520 have died from it. 

All the while, OSHA, the federal agency charged with protecting health and safety in the workplace, has done very little to address the pandemic, and we still lack a national safety standard on keeping Covid-safe at work.

President Biden's OSHA will fix this glaring omission. He has called on Congress "to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers."

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biden calls for extension and expansion of FFCRA

As you should hopefully be aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the federal law that provided paid leave to employees for Covid-related absences, expired on December 31, 2020, with an option for employers to voluntarily expand leave through March 31, 2021. The problem, however, is that while this leave has expired or will soon expire, COVID-19 is not expiring any time soon.

Help, however, may soon be on the way, as part of President-elect Biden's America Rescue Plan. A key part of that plan is a significant expansion of the FFCRA.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Coronavirus Update 1-12-2021: 8 of the 10 deadliest days in US history are because of Covid

While we've all been mentally overcome by the rebellion that unfolded at the Capitol and the civil war that I fear it started, Covid-19 continues to rage around the country. Hundreds of thousands are falling ill each day, hospitals are stretched to capacity, and thousands are dying daily. The circle of people with Covid is closing in personally, and the number of calls I am receiving from clients with the question, "We've had an employee test positive; what do we do," has increased exponentially. All the while, the rollout of the vaccine, which was supposed to save us from this pandemic, has been too slow and uneven. 

The bottom line is that Covid-19 continues to win. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

I’m not in Kansas anymore … or ever (an unemployment fraud story)

What's wrong with this photo?

Monday, January 4, 2021

Coronavirus Update 1-4-2021: DOL approves telemedicine visits to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA

With the COVID-19 pandemic closing health-care-provider offices or severely limiting patient access, many have turned to telehealth to remotely obtain healthcare from the safety of their homes. The question arose, however, whether these remote visits would qualify as "treatment" under the FMLA's qualifying definition of a "serious health condition," which under the FMLA's regulations requires an "in-person visit to a health care provider," and does not include "a phone call, letter, email, or text message."

While you were celebrating your December holidays, the Department of Labor issued a Field Assistance Bulletin [pdf] addressing this issue. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-22-2020: Congress approves an FFCRA extension (sort of)

Late yesterday, Congress approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, better known as its $900 billion COVID-19 rescue stimulus. President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

Buried within the bill's 5593 pages (on pages 2033 - 2037) is an extension of tax credits for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which otherwise would have expired on December 31.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-21-2020: Ensuring compliance with your Covid safety protocols shouldn’t be a mission impossible

British newspaper The Sun published leaked audio capturing Tom Cruise angrily addressing two crew members who he believed had breached Covid-19 protocols while filming "Mission Impossible 7."

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-17-2020, part 2: The COVID-19 vaccine and race discrimination

One issue the EEOC omitted from its technical guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine is the issue of race discrimination. 

According to one recent study, 57% of African Americans say that they definitely or probably will not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Many point to their distrust of the federal government fueled by decades of medical studies on Black people, including the Tuskegee Experiment, which left hundreds of Black men untreated for syphilis between 1932 and 1972.

If you are going to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy for your workplace (which the EEOC says you can do, subject to reasonable accommodation exceptions under the ADA for medical issues and Title VII for sincerely held religious beliefs or observances), then you must account for the possibility of that policy having a disparate impact based on race. Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up for a potential race discrimination lawsuit.

* Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Coronavirus Update 12-17-2020: EEOC releases guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine

Yesterday, the EEOC published its guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine under the ADA and GINA, in the form of nine Q & As. You can read them in their totality here

The TL;DR: yes, you can force employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment (although the should is an entirely different issue), subject to limits on reasonable accommodations for employees' disabilities and sincerely held religious practices or beliefs and subject to limits on pre-vaccination medical questions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-15-2020: Don’t be this a-hole

According to, a pair of Ohio parents are facing possible criminal charges after piling 60 maskless teenagers into a party bus to celebrate their son's 14th birthday.
Police learned a parent had arranged for the party bus, which originated in Cincinnati…. The parent had posted an open invitation on social media, police say.

Monday, December 14, 2020

If you’re tired of reading about the Worst Employer voting, you can now listen to me talk about it

Marc Alifanz and Kate Bischoff are two of my favorite people. They also happen to host one of my favorite podcasts, Hostile Work Environment. I promise that I'm not just dishing out these high praises because Marc and Kate invited me to guest on this week's episode to discuss the 10 nominees for this year's Worst Employer poll. 

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you choose to get your podcasts. (And while you're there do us all a favor and click that subscribe button if you already haven't.)

Friday, December 11, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-11-2020: Food insecurity

One of the great tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of Americans who are without enough food to eat. It is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 4 households have experienced food insecurity at some point in 2020 (up from 1 out of 10 in 2019). That's an additional 20 million households, or 52.5 Americans, who at some point this year were or continue to be unable to acquire enough food to meet their basic needs or were uncertain of where their next meal will come from. Tens of millions of our fellow Americans are going hungry because of COVID-19.

On Sunday, December 20, at 6 pm, my daughter will be playing an online gig in support of the Hunger Network. The gig is part of this month's 48 Hour Virtual Music Fest, a local monthly online concert series that supports a different cause each month. This month's Fest is in conjunction with WJCU's Blizzard Bash, an annual event put on by John Carroll University's radio station, which this year is being held virtually. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-9-2020: Maskual harassment, part 2

"I wish I could see your pretty lips if they match ur eyes."

"Come on, sweetie. Lemme see that pretty face under there. Take it off for me, will you? Just a quick flash."

"I can be covid and make you short of breath."

"I don't wear a condom; I sure as hell aren't going to wear a mask!"

"Social distancing? My pocket rocket can still reach you."

"I'll take your mask off and stick my tongue down your throat."

These are just a few of the hundreds of awful and offensive comments to which service industry workers reported being subjected while working during COVID (report here).

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-8-2020: Tipped restaurant and other service workers at high risk for “maskual harassment"

Everyone has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Service industry employees, however, have been hit particularly hard. Many are out of work. And those that are able to work are worker fewer hours and earning less in wages and tips.

Moreover, according to this survey (h/t: NPR), a majority of service industry workers are being forced to choose between earning valuable tips and staying safe by wearing a mask.

Consider these statistics regarding tipped employees:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-7-2020: Vaccines

We are days away from the FDA approving two different COVID-19 vaccines, and it is being reported that the first people could start receiving the vaccine as early as Friday.

While I covered the topic of employer-mandated vaccines earlier this year, I understand that everyone doesn't necessarily see or read every post I write. Thus, because of just how important this issue will quickly become for employers, today I'm directing you to my thoughts from three months ago: Coronavirus Update 9-1-2020: Vaccines — can an employer require them; should an employer require them?

Friday, December 4, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-4-2020: COVID is like a blizzard

I didn't write today's post. My healthcare worker sister-in-law did. Hopefully she doesn't mind that I'm sharing what she posted on Facebook earlier this week. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-3-2020: CDC cuts recommended quarantine period from 14 days to 7 – 10 days (sort of)

Yesterday, the CDC amended its guidance on the duration of quarantine for individuals in close contact with someone else positive with COVID-19. We need to pay close attention to the fine print. All of the headlines are reporting that the CDC has shortened its recommended COVID-19 quarantine period. That's not, however, what happened.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-2-2020: Congress must extend the FFCRA

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the federal law that provides paid sick and family leave to employees for COVID-19-related absences, ends in 29 days. By its terms, the law sunsets on December 31. 

Yesterday, news broke of a new coronavirus relief bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will put forward. It will include important measures such as the extension of unemployment insurance expansions for another month, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) small business assistance, and additional funding for the USPS, schools, testing, and vaccine distribution.

What doesn't it include? Any extension of the FFCRA.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Coronavirus Update 11-23-2020: Thankful

2020 has certainly been a year like no other. People are sick and dying. Hospitals are filling up. Our essential workers are stressed and tired.

I'm tired, too. Part of what's making me tired is continuing to hear people complain about "2020" when we have so much for which to be thankful.

Here's my list of everything for which I have been and continue to be thankful during the pandemic.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Coronavirus Update 11-20-2020: The 12th nominee for the “worst employer of 2020” is … bad bettor

Do you remember that scene from The Deer Hunter where Christopher Walken plays Russian roulette in a betting parlor, while the patrons place bets on whether he'll live or die with every pull of the revolver's trigger? That's what I thought of as I read the allegations in Fernandez v. Tyson Foods, and not in a good way.

According to the lawsuit, while COVID-19 was running rampant through Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, facility, the Plant Manager "organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19."