Workplace Illness

New Guidance on the Impact of HIPAA on COVID-19 in the Workplace

October 12, 2021

By Theresa E. Rusnak

On Sept. 30, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services published guidance, “HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccination, and the Workplace,” (the Guidance) that details the ways in which the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) intersects with workplace and other third-party inquiries regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Read More >> New Guidance on the Impact of HIPAA on COVID-19 in the Workplace

Task Force Issues Federal Contractor COVID-19 Safety Protocol Guidance

October 5, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On Sept. 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published guidance related to President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.” 

Executive Order 14042 (the Order) generally requires federal agencies and executive departments to ensure that covered contracts and contract-like instruments include a clause that requires covered contractors (and subcontractors) to comply with COVID-19 safety protocol guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, including as it may be updated in the future. 

Read More >> Task Force Issues Federal Contractor COVID-19 Safety Protocol Guidance

Federal Court Issues TRO Enjoining Omission of a Religious Exemption from the Emergency Public Health Vaccination Regulations

September 14, 2021

By Peter A. Jones

The federal District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Sept. 14, 2021, enjoining New York State officials from enforcing emergency regulations imposing a vaccination mandate for certain healthcare workers to the extent that the regulations do not allow for a religious exemption to the mandate. The TRO is available here. As reported here previously, the emergency regulations, which were issued on August 26 by the Public Health and Health Planning Council under the New York State Public Health Law, apply to hospitals, nursing home and home health agencies, among other entities. The emergency regulations were notable for not including provisions for a religious exemption or any test out provisions. The court’s TRO places the lack of a religious exemption provision on hold, pending the outcome of the proceeding.

Read More >> Federal Court Issues TRO Enjoining Omission of a Religious Exemption from the Emergency Public Health Vaccination Regulations

Employers Activate Your HERO Act Plans! NY Commissioner of Health Issues NY HERO Act Designation for COVID-19

September 7, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On Sept. 6, 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed the NYS Commissioner of Health to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. The designation is official and available on the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) website.

Read More >> Employers Activate Your HERO Act Plans! NY Commissioner of Health Issues NY HERO Act Designation for COVID-19

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