North America

Coronavirus: What is an employer to do?

As the United States evacuates citizens from Wuhan, China, and in the wake of news that it may be possible for the coronavirus to spread before a person is symptomatic, many employers are wondering what, if anything, they should be doing to keep their workplace safe. As when similar widespread health concerns have occurred in the past, such as the H1N1 flu in 2009, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have provided guidance. Read more…

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Force Majeure and Other Contractual Considerations in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the respiratory illness called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic, making it the first time that the WHO has declared an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its rapid, global spread and the numbers of cases and deaths rise, the commercial effects for businesses also increase, including labor issues, regulatory issues from governmental restrictions and quarantines, supply chain and logistics issues from transportation and facility disruptions, and privacy issues from the use and disclosure of medically sensitive personal information. Because these commercial effects may result in an impacted party’s inability to fully perform its obligations under its contracts, companies should consider the risks under existing contracts, as well as how to address COVID-19 and other epidemics and pandemics in future contracts. Read more…

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Cybercriminals exploit coronavirus fears

Cybercriminals continue to exploit any opportunity to target the data of unsuspecting victims with malicious malware, even using a growing health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic as subterfuge.

According to a report by Forbes’ Zak Doffman on Wednesday, March 11, AZORult malware has found a new carrier into the systems of worried internet surfers searching for the most up-to-date news on the COVID-19 virus. Reason Labs updated a warning about the four-year-old malware now hiding behind a website offering a world map showing the spread of confirmed coronavirus cases. Read more…

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Prospectively Reducing Workweeks for Overtime Exempt Employees – With a Commensurate Reduction in Salary – Does Not Necessarily Destroy the Exemption

Employers grappling with workplace attendance issues in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus may soon face additional challenges resulting from a potential economic downturn.  Media stories are already beginning to report on potential furloughs and layoffs.  For some employers, reducing the workweek (e.g., from 5 working days to 4 working days) could be a reasonable business response.  But would reducing the workweek affect the overtime exemption for exempt employees?

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Video: Employers Prepare Policies for Coronavirus Pandemic – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  In the event the coronavirus spreads drastically, many employers will want to implement mandatory work-from-home policies. Employers should consider various aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act when crafting these policies. Attorney Jeffrey H. Ruzal explains best practices in the following video interview. See also his recent post on the Wage and Hour Defense Blog. 


Video: YouTubeVimeoMP4Instagram.

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COVID-19: A Guide for the Employers

By Eliab Taïrou, from our Labour and Employment Law Practice Group

March 11, 2020 — According to the WHO, 109,577 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus disease have been confirmed worldwide, including 3,809 deaths, as of March 9, 2020. In the last 24 hours as of March 9, these figures include 3,993 new cases and 225 deaths. In Canada, there have been 77 confirmed cases according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The Agency is maintaining its assessment of a low risk to the Canadian population at this time, while noting that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe outcomes.

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Lawyers: Don’t Let Coronavirus Stop You from Collaborating – Here’s How

As travel restrictions increase, and law firms begin to close their offices and reduce their client meetings, it’s time to get creative about the ways in which we keep in touch. “Collaboration” sounds like the sort of thing that requires you to be in the same room to achieve, but in fact, you can use content collaboration as a way to build relationships with clients, potential clients, and others all while remaining in your office (home or otherwise).

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COVID-19, Work-from-Home Policies, and Maintaining Wage and Hour Compliance

As the number of U.S. states reporting cases of COVID-19 coronavirus increases, many employers are imposing mandatory work from home (“WFH”) policies to mitigate risk of contamination and ensure business continuity.  Some employers are requiring employees who have travelled to or received visitors from mainland China (or other areas with high infection rates) and those with fever or other flu-like symptoms to remain at home for 14 days, while others are instructing half or more, up to their entire workforce, to work remotely until further notice.  Whatever the form, employers enacting WFH policies need to make sure they are appropriately compensating their workers and are otherwise complying with all applicable federal, state, and local wage and hour laws.

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Video and Podcast: Employee Travel and the Coronavirus, NLRB’s Joint-Employment Rule, and DoorDash’s 5,000+ Individual Arbitrations

Following are the top stories featured in this week’s #WorkforceWednesday, from Employment Law This Week:

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Lawyers: Networking During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus.

The hot topic on everyone’s mind at the moment (unless you’re in the US and then it’s pretty evenly split between politics and germs). I almost hate to join the fray and discuss it, but with so many events being cancelled, and travel restrictions being enacted, I wanted to add some suggestions for how to continue networking during this time, so that you don’t lose momentum on your relationship building efforts.

For some of us, travel and events still move forward. Travel guidance varies – it depends on your destination and the size of the gathering. Common sense and good hygiene are essential, and for our group, we’ll be instituting what we’re fondly referring to as “Operation Fist Bump” at our upcoming Annual Conference (which may be further downgraded to “Operation Wave Hello.”

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