Workplace Illness

Update Regarding New York’s Healthcare Vaccine Mandate

January 31, 2023

By Adam P. Mastroleo and Hannah K. Redmond

On Jan. 13, 2023, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Gerard J. Neri, struck down a regulation adopted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) – 10 N.Y.C.R.R. § 2.61 (the Regulation) – requiring covered healthcare entities to ensure that their “personnel” are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19.[1] Judge Neri invalidated the Regulation on several grounds, holding that the NYSDOH exceeded its authority in implementing the Regulation and that the Regulation lacked a rational basis given the NYSDOH’s acknowledgement that the mandate does not prevent transmission.[2]

Read More >> Update Regarding New York’s Healthcare Vaccine Mandate

New York’s Healthcare Vaccine Mandate Comes Under Fire . . . Again

January 17, 2023

By Adam P. Mastroleo and Hannah K. Redmond

In August 2021, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) implemented an emergency regulation – 10 N.Y.C.R.R. § 2.61 (the Regulation) – requiring covered healthcare entities to ensure that their “personnel” are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. The NYSDOH Commissioner permanently adopted the regulation in June 2022. Commonly referred to as a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, the Regulation has been the subject of several legal challenges in both state and federal courts.

Read More >> New York’s Healthcare Vaccine Mandate Comes Under Fire . . . Again

Earned Safe and Sick Time Act Proposal

December 9, 2022

By Jane M. Sovern and Paige Carey

New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA or Act) provides covered employees with the right to use safe and sick leave as it accrues for a delineated list of circumstances. On Aug. 11, 2022, the New York City Council introduced a proposal to amend the ESSTA’s definition of “employee.” Under this proposal, certain independent contractors would qualify as employees and receive benefit coverage under the Act. The proposal would require hiring entities to engage in detailed analyses of individuals providing services to determine wither they are independent contractors or employees.

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New York State Adopts the CDC’s COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

September 22, 2022

By Hannah K. Redmond and Jared A. Joyce

On Sept. 14, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued updated COVID-19 quarantine and isolation guidance, which effectively replaces the guidance from May 31, 2022. According to the September 14 guidance, the NYSDOH will now follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines on quarantine and isolation.

Read More >> New York State Adopts the CDC’s COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

New Guidance from U.S. DOL on FMLA Leave for Mental Health Conditions

June 6, 2022

In connection with Mental Health Awareness Month, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has sought to assist employers in better understanding how to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as it relates to mental health conditions. Accordingly, on May 25, 2022, the USDOL issued new guidance (Guidance) and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on providing FMLA leave to employees to address their own mental health conditions or to care for a covered family member with a mental health condition.

Read More >> New Guidance from U.S. DOL on FMLA Leave for Mental Health Conditions

NYDOH Extends NY HERO Act Designation a Fifth Time

February 16, 2022

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On Feb. 15, 2022, the NYS Commissioner of Health extended the NY HERO Act designation for a fifth time through March 17, 2022. The Commissioner will review the CDC’s level of transmission of COVID-19 at that time and determine whether to continue the designation (extend further) or not. Based on the Commissioner’s designations, if the CDC’s level of transmission in New York continues to be “high” or “substantial,” it seems highly likely that the Commissioner will continue the designation. 

Read More >> NYDOH Extends NY HERO Act Designation a Fifth Time

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