Labor Relations

Supreme Court Blocks Enforcement of OSHA’s Vax-or-Test Rule; What Now?

January 14, 2022

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

The wait is over. On Jan.13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision to stay the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) vaccination or test emergency temporary standard (ETS), effectively blocking the enforcement of the ETS for the foreseeable future.

Read More >> Supreme Court Blocks Enforcement of OSHA’s Vax-or-Test Rule; What Now?

Status Update on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate: Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending; First Compliance Date is Here; OSHA Clarifies Additional Questions on the Mandate

January 11, 2022

It seems that change is the only constant when it comes to OSHA’s Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Here is the current status:

The Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending

On Friday, Jan. 7, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the ETS at a special session of the Court.1 Challengers to the ETS requested that the Court issue a stay to stop the ETS before Jan. 10, stating that the mandate was overly broad and was a question that should be left to Congress or to be decided at the state-specific level. Though one cannot predict how the Court will rule, based on their line of questioning, a majority of the justices appeared to be skeptical of the ETS with Justice Alito quoting the late Justice Scalia when he described OSHA’s interpretation as “squeezing an elephant into a mousehole.” At the hearing, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh focused on the Major Questions Doctrine.2 The justices also focused on whether OSHA had the authority to mandate a vaccine that impacts not only the workplace, but also employees’ lives outside the workplace, and is, to quote Chief Justice Roberts, an “out-in-the-world issue.” Additionally, the justices floated the idea of issuing a brief administrative stay until they could make a decision. Solicitor General Prelogar, appearing for OSHA, obviously disagreed and said that the Jan. 10 deadline did not pose a major burden on businesses, except for imposing mask requirements. The Court has announced that it will be issuing “one or more opinions” on Jan. 13. It is unclear if one of these opinions will be with respect to the ETS. We are awaiting the Court’s decision and will keep you informed.

Read More >> Status Update on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate: Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending; First Compliance Date is Here; OSHA Clarifies Additional Questions on the Mandate

New York State Updates COVID-19 Quarantine Periods

January 5, 2022

On Dec. 24, 2021, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued updated isolation and quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated healthcare and other essential workers infected with COVID-19, allowing them to return to work after five days of isolation, so long as each worker is asymptomatic, or their symptoms have mostly resolved. 

On Dec. 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance for isolation and quarantine for the general population, which New York State also adopted on Jan. 4, 2022, replacing its December 24 guidance, with the exception of New York State maintaining a separate standard for healthcare workers. Following is a description of the current quarantine standards for the general population and healthcare workers in New York State. 

Read More >> New York State Updates COVID-19 Quarantine Periods

New York Publishes Final Paid Sick Leave Regulations

January 4, 2022

By Theresa E. Rusnak

On Dec. 22, 2021, New York published its final paid sick leave regulations. These regulations are identical to the proposed regulations, initially published on Dec. 9, 2020. New York Paid Sick Leave (PSL) requires employers to provide paid leave to employees relating to an employee’s or an employee’s family member’s medical needs, or for reasons relating to domestic violence and similar offenses. Since Jan. 1, 2021, employers have been required to provide this leave to all New York employees. 

Read More >> New York Publishes Final Paid Sick Leave Regulations

NYDOL Publishes Long-Awaited Proposed Regulations Relating to Workplace Safety Committees Under the NY HERO Act

January 3, 2022

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On Dec. 22, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published long-awaited proposed regulations relating to the second half of the NY HERO Act relating to workplace safety committees. 

By way of brief background, on May 5, 2021 the state signed the NY HERO Act into law. The NY HERO Act added two new sections to the New York Labor Law: (1) New York Labor Law Section 218-b, regarding occupational exposure to airborne infectious disease, which created certain obligations for private employers and protections for employees, including the requirement to adopt an “airborne disease exposure prevention plan”; and (2) New York Labor Law Section 27-d, dealing with employee rights to form workplace safety committees. The first part of the NY HERO Act (NYLL 218-b) went into effect on July 4, 2021. The second part of the NY HERO Act (NYLL 27-d) went into effect on Nov. 1, 2021. 

Read More >> NYDOL Publishes Long-Awaited Proposed Regulations Relating to Workplace Safety Committees Under the NY HERO Act

Supreme Court to Expedite Hearing on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate; Prepare for OSHA’s January 10 Deadline Now

December 23, 2021

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

It seems that new details about the status of OSHA’s Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) are emerging daily! On Dec. 22, 2021, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will expedite hearing arguments regarding the ETS at a special session of the Court on Jan. 7, 2022.1  This announcement comes on the heels of a rapid succession of litigation and court orders. In early November 2021, the Fifth Circuit had temporarily stayed implementation of the ETS, which was later lifted by the Sixth Circuit on Dec. 17. Almost immediately, plaintiffs challenging the ETS filed several requests with the Court asking the justices to order an emergency stay of the rule. Please review Bond’s Dec. 20, 2021 blog post for additional details.

Read More >> Supreme Court to Expedite Hearing on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate; Prepare for OSHA’s January 10 Deadline Now

Is OSHA’s Vax Or Test Mandate Here To Stay?

December 20, 2021

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

On Friday, December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted the Fifth Circuit’s stay order on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination or Test and Mask Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more workers and impacts over 80 million workers in the United States. Under the rule as issued, employers have one of two choices. The first option is to mandate and verify that all of their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers not enacting the first option would be required to test unvaccinated employees weekly for COVID-19 and ensure these employees wear masks in the workplace. OSHA has announced it will begin issuing citations for noncompliance with the ETS’ administrative requirements after January 10, 2022, and the ETS’ testing requirements after February 9, 2022

Read More >> Is OSHA’s Vax Or Test Mandate Here To Stay?

The New York Minimum Salary Level to Qualify for the Executive and Administrative Exemptions Will Increase

December 16, 2021

By Subhash Viswanathan

Ever since the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) announced an increase in the minimum wage from $12.50 per hour to $13.20 per hour in areas outside of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties effective Dec. 31, 2021, we have been expecting a proportionate increase in the minimum weekly salary to qualify for the executive and administrative exemptions. For the last few years, the minimum weekly salary to qualify for the executive and administrative exemptions has been 75 times the minimum hourly wage. The NYSDOL has confirmed that this proportionate increase will occur effective on Dec. 31, 2021.

Read More >> The New York Minimum Salary Level to Qualify for the Executive and Administrative Exemptions Will Increase

New York Department of Health Issues New Mask Mandate

December 10, 2021

By Adam P. Mastroleo and Mallory A. Campbell

On Dec. 10, 2021, at the direction of Gov. Kathy Hochul, the acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Health issued a new mask mandate that applies to several specific public settings, including health care and adult care facilities, K-12 schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and public transportation centers and hubs. Importantly, the mask mandate also includes a general provision applicable to “all indoor public places” not otherwise covered by the mandate. This general provision is broadly applicable and impacts businesses across the state.

Read More >> New York Department of Health Issues New Mask Mandate

New York Significantly Expands Employee Whistleblower Protections

November 8, 2021

By Peter H. Wiltenburg

On Oct. 28, 2021, Gov. Hochul signed legislation that significantly expands the scope of New York Labor Law Section 740 (NYLL 740), the state’s “whistleblower” protection law covering all private sector employees. Most notably, beginning in January 2022, employees and independent contractors will be protected for reporting employer activity that they reasonably believe violates any law, regardless of whether the law relates to public safety or whether the activity was an actual violation. 

Read More >> New York Significantly Expands Employee Whistleblower Protections

OSHA's Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is Here

November 4, 2021

By Thomas G. Eron and Nihla F. Sikkander

On Nov. 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring all employers with 100 or more employees, with a few exceptions, to mandate vaccination or test employees weekly for COVID-19. OSHA justified the ETS by citing a “grave danger” posed by the coronavirus. Covered employers are required to develop, implement and enforce either a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or a policy requiring employees to choose to get vaccinated or to undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. In addition, the ETS requires employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave for employees to recover from any side effects resulting from vaccination.

Read More >> OSHA's Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is Here