North America

FAQ: US DOL Releases Regulations Clarifying Employer FFCRA Obligations

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued revised rules (the Revised Rules) clarifying its prior rules on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provides eligible employees with up to 2 weeks of emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and up to 12 weeks of paid public health emergency leave (EFMLA Leave) for certain covered reasons. The Revised Rules, which took effect on September 16, 2020, were promulgated in response to a Southern District of New York (SDNY) court decision that struck down various aspects of the DOL’s original FFCRA rules. Read more…

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Connecticut Extends Existing COVID-Related Executive Orders and Issues Additional Orders Affecting Employers

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ned Lamont declared a public health and civil preparedness emergency in Connecticut.  In connection with this declaration, Governor Lamont has issued numerous Executive Orders throughout the pandemic.  The Executive Orders were set to expire on September 9, 2020, if they were not terminated earlier.

On September 1, 2020, Governor Lamont extended the existing public health and civil preparedness emergency until February 9, 2021. In addition, on September 8, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9A, which reissues and extends all prior Executive Orders to November 9, 2020.  As a result, the Sector Rules, which set forth the rules for workplaces as they reopen in Connecticut, will remain in effect until at least November 9, 2020, and we expect they will be extended further.

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FDA discontinues Emergency Use Authorization reviews for laboratory developed tests

During the Oct. 7, 2020, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Virtual Town Hall live guidance, Director Timothy Stenzel announced that the FDA would not be issuing any further SARS-CoV-2 Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for laboratory developed tests (LDTs). The FDA’s stated goal in making the decision to end LDT EUA reviews is to improve testing capacity by prioritizing its resources for certain tests to increase the public health benefit. Read more…

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Data Breaches and HIPAA Enforcement Remain Endemic Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recently, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules, obtained two large breach-related settlements: one from a HIPAA Covered Entity and one from a HIPAA Business Associate.  These enforcement actions signal that despite COVID-19 related challenges, organizations continue to face rampant data breaches and ensuing HIPAA enforcement.

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Rule 8: Don’t Waste the Crisis – Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19

Part 8 of a series featuring our video Rules of the Road: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19.

If there has been one, singular guiding principle or mantra – that has sustained us, challenged us, and in some cases, inspired us over these last few months, this is it. “Don’t Waste the Crisis.” It is also the mantra that will propel us forward.

Flashback to the eve of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order in March, shutting down New York State and New York City as the nation and the world watched. In the countdown leading up to its effective date, there was a palpable feeling of existential unrest – that life as we knew it was about to change and the duration of the change was unknown, but the nature and impact of the change felt heavy already.

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OSHA Updates Its COVID-19 Reporting Requirements for All Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently updated its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) regarding employers’ reporting obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As previously reported, effective as of May 26, 2020, OSHA has declared COVID-19 a recordable illness for all employers.  Thus, employers are responsible for recording workplace cases of COVID-19 on a OSHA 300 Log if the case:  (1) is confirmed COVID-19, as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”); (2) is work-related, defined as “resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment;” and (3) involves one or more of the general recording criteria, which include death, days away from work, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.  Moreover, employers must report to OSHA any work-related fatalities or hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

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In response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, the Ontario government has decided to implement an additional public health measure to help the fight against COVID-19. As of September 26, 2020, all employers, regardless of the sector they belong to, are now required to pre-screen their workers and any essentials visitors prior to their entry into the workplace. “Workers” include students, contractors or volunteers that conduct business or related activities where applicable and appropriate. “Essential visitors” include individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons o f the establishment (e.g., delivery, maintenance, contract workers).

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COVID-19: Home Renovations in the Red Zone

By Sydney Warshaw and Sara Laraichi, from our Business Law Practice Group

October 6, 2020 — Since October 1, Greater Montreal, Québec City and several parts of Quebec are plunged into the “red zone”. This represents the highest alert level for COVID-19 and came with several accompanying restrictions. Unlike in March, when the provincial lockdown was imposed uniformly across most sectors of society, this lockdown features a series of unique rules depending on economic sector and housing arrangements.

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As countless business interruption claims have been asserted with limited success, companies should consider directing their focus to improving and enhancing their insurance policies to ensure coverage would apply to future pandemic scenarios.

COVID-19 Related Insurance Claims

In Studio 417 Inc. et al v. Cincinnati Insurance Co., the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri denied a motion to dismiss the claim by the defendant against a group of hair salons and restaurants suing their insurer for business interruption losses caused by the pandemic, which they say resulted in a “direct physical loss” to their premises. Read more…

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Notice to Employers: Economic Recovery Benefits and New Protection for Employees in the Event of Absence Related to COVID-19

By Eliab Taïrou, from our Labour and Employment Law Group

October 2, 2020 — On October 1, 2020, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 (Bill C-4 — formerly C-2) was passed by the House of Commons of Canada and now awaits Senate support and Royal Assent before coming into force.

This legislation comes following the expiry of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program and includes three financial support measures to assist workers as part of the country’s economic recovery:

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