USDOL’S Wage and Hour Division Announces Priority of Protecting Workers from Retaliation

March 16, 2022

By Subhash Viswanathan

On March 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal wage and hour laws) announced that one of its top enforcement priorities is to protect workers from retaliation for exercising their rights. The USDOL launched an anti-retaliation page on its web site and published a Field Assistance Bulletin on the subject of retaliation.

Read More >> USDOL’S Wage and Hour Division Announces Priority of Protecting Workers from Retaliation

Updated Guidance on Religious Accommodations to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

March 11, 2022

By Brittany R. Frank

On March 1, 2022, the EEOC updated its guidance on religious accommodations to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. While the guidance states that job applicants and employees have a right to request a religious accommodation from an employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement under Title VII, the new guidance answers many questions specific to COVID-19 vaccination requirements and specifically addresses how employers should evaluate an employee’s religious objection to the vaccine.

Read More >> Updated Guidance on Religious Accommodations to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to Strengthen Sexual Harassment Protections for Employees

March 9, 2022

By Gianelle M. Duby

The New York legislature has passed significant legislation that would further expand sexual harassment protections for employees in New York. This suite of legislation is intended to ensure that all public and private employees are treated in a fair manner and have the necessary resources available to seek accountability from their employers. If signed by the governor, the legislation will ban “no-rehire” clauses in settlement agreements, extend the statute of limitations for workplace harassment and discrimination claims, explicitly extend applicability of the New York Human Rights Law (HRL) to public employees, provide protection from unlawful retaliation, create a confidential sexual harassment hotline and enact the Let Survivors Speak Act. Each provision is discussed in turn below.

Read More >> New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to Strengthen Sexual Harassment Protections for Employees

Employers Take Notice: The NLRB, the DOL and the EEOC Are Working Together to Combat Employer Retaliation

March 4, 2022

By Nihla F. Sikkander and Sarah Zucco

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), three federal agencies that enforce major federal labor and employment laws, are joining forces to combat employer retaliation. Employers must be aware that these federal agencies are moving forward with concrete steps to jointly coordinate efforts to take action and litigate against workplace violations and are incentivizing workers to come forward with their concerns.

Read More >> Employers Take Notice: The NLRB, the DOL and the EEOC Are Working Together to Combat Employer Retaliation

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

Mandatory Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims Soon to be Prohibited

February 14, 2022

By Travis R. Talerico

On Feb. 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 4445 – the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021,” also known as the “#MeToo Bill.” 

The #MeToo Bill will amend the Federal Arbitration Act, and will invalidate mandatory arbitration agreements that preclude an employee from filing a lawsuit in court arising from workplace sexual assault or sexual harassment. The Bill will have a significant impact on employment law, as these arbitration provisions are commonly included in employment contracts. The Bill will also limit the ways in which an employee can pursue their claims, and keep the details of those claims out of the public eye far more than a typical court proceeding. 

Read More >> Mandatory Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims Soon to be Prohibited

NYDOL Clarifies Face Covering Requirements Under NY HERO Act

February 10, 2022

By Andrew D. Bobrek, Stephanie H. Fedorka, and Adam P. Mastroleo

On the evening of Feb. 9, 2022, the NYS Department of Labor updated its Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plans again. Earlier on the same day, New York Gov. Hochul announced an end to the statewide mask mandate (commonly referred to as the “vax-or-mask” rule), effective Feb. 10, 2022. 

Read More >> NYDOL Clarifies Face Covering Requirements Under NY HERO Act

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