Friday, March 26, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-26-2021: 5 Considerations for Drafting Your COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

At some point over the next several months, most of your employees will receive one of the various COVID-19 vaccines that the Food & Drug Administration has approved for Emergency Use Authorization. As your employees consider whether and when to obtain the vaccine, you, as their employer, have numerous issues to consider regarding the vaccination status of your employees. You should also formalize these decisions in a written Vaccination Policy that you provide to each of your employees, so that everyone is on the same page as to your requirements and expectations regarding the vaccine.

What are the five key issues every employer should be considering and incorporating into a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy? You'll have to head over to the Wickens Herzer Panza website to find out. 

* Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-25-2021: Ohio legislature foolishly and dangerously limits the authority of the governor to respond to public health crises

"I can tell, as you're smirking at me not wearing a mask, you are not good at public health. This is not your lane, you need to get out of it."

That's Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes chastising her Republican colleagues for their support of Senate Bill 22, which Governor DeWine vetoed on Tuesday, and the state legislature overrode that veto yesterday.

What is S.B. 22? It limits the authority of the governor, Ohio Department of Health, and local health departments to respond to a public health crisis such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-24-2021: Which of your employees should you bring back to work

For the past year, an astounding 44 percent of employees have been working remotely full time, and two-thirds of employees have been working remotely at least one day per week. With vaccination rates on the rise and offering a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, employers are starting to plan for bringing employees back to the physical workplace.

These decisions involve a lot of key questions an employer needs to answer in planning for where employees will work in a post-vaccine, post-pandemic world.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The 7th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the penny pincher

The law of every state I can think of requires that an employer timely provide a departed employee with his or her last paycheck. I know of no law that says how that final payment must be paid. There should be a law, however, that prohibits an employer from doing so by dumping a pile of oily pennies in someone's driveway.

That's exactly what happened to Andreas Flatens, who quit his job at A OK Walker Luxury Auto Shop because of the toxic work environment created by its owner, Miles Walker. He claims Walker then left his final paycheck of $1,000 (that's 100,000 pennies) in front of his home in pennies covered in some oily substance.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-22-2021: Covidiots at Whole Foods

"I'm Jewish; I don't have to wear a mask." That's what the maskless woman (shopping with her maskless teenage daughter) in front of me in line yesterday at the Whole Food fish counter said to the employee who politely reminded her that the mask she was holding in her hand was required to be on her face while inside the store. 

Her statement was bad enough. As a Jew, I know of no tenet of my religion that says masks don't have to be worn. But it's what came next that caused my jaw to hit the floor.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-19-2021: CDC is now recommending COVID-19 screening tests of asymptomatic employees of certain employers

The CDC is now recommending that certain non-healthcare employers test asymptomatic employees for COVID-19. According to the CDC, this screening "may be useful to detect COVID-19 early and stop transmission quickly" and can be done in done "in addition to symptom and temperature checks, which will miss asymptomatic or presymptomatic contagious workers." 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-18-2021: Employers facing lawsuits for failing to pay for pre-shift Covid screenings

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I asked this question: "Are employers legally responsible for paying workers for the time it takes to record their body temperatures before entering the workplace?" 

My answer was a legal, "Probably," and a moral, "Definitely."

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-17-2021: CDC allows large employers to establish vaccination sites

Yesterday, the CDC released guidance permitting large employers to establish temporary sites to vaccinate employees. 

The CDC says that employers should consider opting for an on-site vaccination program if they have a large number of employees with predictable schedules and enough space to set up a pop-up clinic while still allowing for COVID-appropriate social distancing. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The 6th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the deportation threatener

Full disclosure — I love Tate's Bake Shop's gluten free cookies. Prior to gluten free Oreos hitting supermarket shelves (I dare you to tell them apart from their full-glutened sibling), I bought Tate's gluten free chocolate chip cookies all of the time. The allegations raised by this story, however, gives me great pause in ever buying their cookies again. 

It seems that Tate's is in the middle of a union organizing campaign and the baker is alleged to have threatened with deportation undocumented workers who support the union.

Monday, March 15, 2021


Today brings BIG changes for my career and me. It's my first day of work at Wickens Herzer Panza after relocating my practice and joining its Board of Directors, Litigation Department, and Employment & Labor practice team (which I'll help guide).

I am beyond excited for the opportunity and platform my new home offers my practice, my clients, and me. Stay tuned for some exciting ideas about how I can better help your business proactively solve your workforce problems.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-12-2021: What does the American Rescue Plan mean for employers?

Yesterday, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, aka the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. It's the most significant economic relief bill we've seen in decades. Here are four key provisions to which employers should be paying attention.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-11-2021: Happy 1st Birthday COVID-19 Pandemic

It's been exactly one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of when I started working from home. (It will also mark another significant milestone, but more on that on Monday.) Wednesday is one year from the date I temporarily rebranded the Ohio Employer Law Blog as the Coronavirus Law Blog. I look forward to ending that branding soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-10-2021: John Oliver on unemployment

One of the lasting lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that our state unemployment systems are old and broken, and desperately need to be modernized and fixed. While the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package that President Biden is expected to imminently sign provides for a $300 federal unemployment bonus for a few months, that is the tiniest of bandaids on this very large problem. 

Thankfully, we have John Oliver to offer his commentary on this important issue.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-9-2021: CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely visit fully vaccinated Grandma (but still have to keep wearing masks at work)

Yesterday, the CDC issued its long-awaited guidance on how fully vaccinated people can safely visit others.

Here's who and how the CDC says can fully vaccinated people can safely visit:
  • Other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart; and
  • Unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-8-2021: Local judge in hot water over “China Virus” comments

Rule number one of this blog has always been, "Don't criticize judges whom you might appear in front of." Rules, however, are made to be broken, and some issues are just too important to ignore.

Judge John O’Donnell of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas is in hot water over comments he made in this month's edition of his county bar association's newsletter. In an article he wrote about managing his courtroom during the pandemic, he called COVID-19 the "China Virus" three separate times.

This is simply not acceptable. I'm appalled, and you should be, too.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-4-2021: Please pay your employees for time off related to the Covid vaccine

Earlier this week, the House passed an extension of the FFCRA as part of its $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus bill. (I'll cover its details in a future post, but if you're curious now, head over to Jeff Nowak's FMLA Insights.) 

One of the new measures in this proposed extension is the inclusion of leave taken by an employee to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or recover from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the vaccine.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-3-2021: As states lift mask mandates, remember that the law is always a floor and not a ceiling

With that announcement, Texas joins Mississippi (whose governor made the same announcement yesterday) and many of the other usual suspects with no rules mandating that people wear masks or other facial covering in public or at work.

I say, "BOOOOOOO!!!!" This is the worst idea at the worst possible time. Yes, cases are falling and vaccination rates are rising. But the prevalence of the more contagious Covid variants is also rising, and we are still months or longer away from herd immunity. Now is the time to double-down on safety, not shirk our responsibility to ourselves, our families, friends, coworkers, and others. As my friend Suzanne Lucas eloquently stated in discussing this same issue, "Moral obligations don't go away."

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The 5th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the safety ignorer

Nine days before Christmas, one of my neighbors posted the following on my community's Facebook page.

Any prayer warriors on here, please keep the roofer who just fell off one of the townhouses in your prayers. It doesn't look like he's moving. So so sad 😢.
Courtesy of OSHA, we now know exactly what happened. In addition to being completely tragic, it was also 100 percent avoidable. A local roofing company sent a 14-year-old boy up on a three-story roof with absolutely no fall protection equipment and then tried to cover it up after he fell. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-1-2021: If “doing the right thing” doesn’t motivate you to take COVID-19 safety seriously, then consider the impact on your business if you don’t

The sign on the door of Platform Beer's Columbus, Ohio, taproom reads: "The entire Platform Columbus crew has quit. The taproom is closed until further notice. Thank you!"

The employees and their former(?) employer are battling it out on Twitter.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-26-2021: Adaptability

Adaptability to change is itself a hallmark of successful education.
– Peter Hilton

2020  2021 has been a different school year for everyone. My kids are fortunate in that their school, Lake Ridge Academy, has been open for full-time, in-person instruction for the entire school year. There have, however, been key changes in the name of safety. For example, the school made the decision not to participate in interscholastic sports this year. My son was able to participate on the Middle School robotics team, with the competition submitted remotely. My daughter had the benefit of participating in the Upper School's fall play, which was staged outside in the warm autumn weather. 

The Upper School musical, usually presented on stage in late February, presented a different set of challenges. An outdoor performance is simply not an option in the harsh winter climate of Northeast Ohio. An indoor live performance is also not an option because it simply cannot be executed safely within COVID-19's limitations. 

So what did the school do? It adapted. Instead of performing a live, in-person musical, it spent the past several months filming its first-ever movie musical, which it will stream March 5, 6, and 7. And my daughter, Norah, has the lead role.