Workplace Illness

Department of Justice Issues Opinion on the Legality of COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

July 29, 2021

By Adam P. Mastroleo

The following article ran as a guest opinion in the July 29, 2021 edition of the Rochester Beacon and it is reprinted here with permission. 

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Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in December, many businesses have wrestled with whether to impose vaccine mandates for their employees. This is a difficult question, with many considerations, including whether such a requirement is necessary or practical. Perhaps the most significant consideration, with which businesses and lawyers have struggled, is whether such a requirement is “legal.”

Read More >> Department of Justice Issues Opinion on the Legality of COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

NY HERO Act – NYSDOL Publishes Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards and Model Plans For Various Industries

July 7, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On the evening of July 6, 2021, the NYS Department of Labor (DOL) published the long awaited “Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard” (Standard), a general “Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan,” and several industry specific model prevention plans as well. These are now available on the DOL’s website. The model plans are currently available in English, but the website states that they will also be available in Spanish soon, as required by statute. 

Read More >> NY HERO Act – NYSDOL Publishes Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards and Model Plans For Various Industries

Technical Amendments to NY HERO Act Passed – What’s Next For Employers

June 14, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

As previously reported, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 5, 2021. The governor announced that his approval was based on his having secured an “agreement” with the NYS Legislature to make certain “technical changes” to the bill. On May 26 the amendments passed in the NYS Senate, and on June 7, they passed in the NYS Assembly. On Friday, June 11, the bill was delivered to and signed by Governor Cuomo. 

Read More >> Technical Amendments to NY HERO Act Passed – What’s Next For Employers

OSHA Releases COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rule for Health Care Employers

June 11, 2021

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

At long last, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has finally released a COVID-19 standard that it has stated was coming since January. Healthcare employers will be required to abide by the new emergency temporary standard (ETS) published by OSHA (the last time OSHA issued an emergency standard was in 1983 to address asbestos exposure). The emergency workplace safety rule was published on OSHA’s website on June 10, 2021 and is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Voluntary guidance for other industries will follow.

Read More >> OSHA Releases COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rule for Health Care Employers

EEOC Issues Updated Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives

June 9, 2021

By Daniel J. Nugent

Our previous information memo discussed several issues that employers should be aware of when considering whether to provide an incentive to employees to encourage them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance to employers on workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies, including guidance on employer-offered COVID-19 vaccine incentives.

Read More >> EEOC Issues Updated Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives

New York Clarifies that Employees Can Utilize Existing Paid Sick Leave If They Experience Side Effects from the COVID-19 Vaccine

May 28, 2021

By Shannon A. Knapp and Adam P. Mastroleo

At his press briefing on Thursday, May 27, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that employers will be required to provide paid sick leave to any employee who experiences side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination. Today, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance concerning such leave. 

Read More >> New York Clarifies that Employees Can Utilize Existing Paid Sick Leave If They Experience Side Effects from the COVID-19 Vaccine

Governor Cuomo Signs HERO Act Into Law

May 6, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo officially signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) into law. The HERO Act effectively imposes significant obligations on covered employers to provide and maintain a safe workplace in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for future airborne infectious disease outbreaks. As previously reported, the HERO Act amended the New York Labor Law by adding two new sections: (1) Section 218-b, which governs development and adoption of an airborne infectious disease prevention policy; and (2) Section 27-D, that requires employers to permit the creation of workplace safety committees. Both sections only apply to private sector employers. However, Section 27-D specifically only applies to private employers with at least 10 employees. 

Read More >> Governor Cuomo Signs HERO Act Into Law

New York State Legislature Passes HERO Act – Significant Workplace Health and Safety Obligations for Employers are on the Horizon

April 30, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On April 20, 2021, the New York Legislature passed the “New York Health and Essential Rights Act” or “HERO Act.” To date, the bill has not been signed by the Governor, but we expect it to be executed in the near future. The bill, as written, would impose significant obligations on employers, regardless of size, in an effort to prevent exposure to airborne infectious diseases. 

Read More >> New York State Legislature Passes HERO Act – Significant Workplace Health and Safety Obligations for Employers are on the Horizon

Long-Awaited Stimulus Relief Bill Has Passed: Key Highlights for Employers

December 30, 2020

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

The long-awaited stimulus relief bill has officially been enacted. On Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Bill), several months after aid had lapsed for many individuals and businesses from the first stimulus bill passed early-on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress came together to push through a 5,593 page, $900 billion stimulus package intended to help those individuals and businesses who continue to struggle economically as a result of the ongoing pandemic. After expressing bipartisan criticism of its contents, President Trump finally signed the Bill on Dec. 27, 2020. 

Read More >> Long-Awaited Stimulus Relief Bill Has Passed: Key Highlights for Employers

EEOC Issues COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance

December 18, 2020

By Nicholas P. Jacobson and Nolan Kokkoris

On Wednesday, December 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance (the Guidance) for employers regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. While the Guidance offers some insight for employers who are considering offering vaccinations to employees or requiring that employees get the COVID-19 vaccination, a number of questions still remain unanswered. The following are some key takeaways from the Guidance.

Read More >> EEOC Issues COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Questions and Answers Regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

March 30, 2020

By Adam P. Mastroleo

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was enacted.  The statute left many questions regarding its implementation and administration unanswered.  Over the past several days, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) has been publishing questions and answers addressing some of these unanswered questions.  Here is a summary of some of the key information provided by the DOL.

Read More >> U.S. Department of Labor Issues Questions and Answers Regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act