North America

President Signs National Anti-Price Gouging Executive Order

On Monday March 23, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at preventing hoarding and price gouging.  Attorney General William H. Barr indicated that the order is authorized under the Defense Protection Act, which allows the United States to compel private industry to assist in meeting national defense needs in response to national emergencies.

The new executive order empowers the Health and Human Services Secretary to designate supplies as “critical.”  Hoarding – accumulating quantities beyond those reasonable to satisfy personal or business needs – or price gouging is prohibited with respect to these “critical” supplies.  Presently, the Health and Human Services Secretary has not designated any supplied as “critical,” It is, however, anticipated that the order will be directed toward medical supplies, as opposed to traditional consumer goods like toilet paper or cleaning products that have also been the subject of supply shortages in the face of COVID-19.

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5 key points in developing a telework policy

States and the federal government are requesting that employers allow employees to telecommute. Some states may even mandate telework in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. READ MORE 

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Is COVID-19 a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio?

In Ohio, employees who are disabled due to the contraction of an occupational disease or are the dependents of an employee whose death is caused by an occupational disease are entitled to compensation under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation system. In light of the current pandemic, an issue of concern for employers in Ohio is whether an employee may have a workers’ compensation claim if the employees contracts COVID-19 in a work related setting. READ MORE

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Deferral of Ohio Workers’ Compensation premiums and other BWC updates

The Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has announced that employers’ insurance premium installment payments due for March, April, and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020. This matter may be reconsidered at that time. READ MORE

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Connecticut Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Employers Facing COVID-19 Issues

The Connecticut Department of Labor issued guidance entitled “Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus (COVID-19) For Workers and Employers” (last updated on March 20, 2020 (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance provides no new legal requirements or amendments to existing laws, but instead, analyzes issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic under existing laws in the areas of unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, wage and hour law and the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (“CTFMLA”).

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Immigration Updates Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Department of State Suspends Routine Visa Services

On March 20, 2020, in response to significant worldwide challenges related to the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, the Department of State announced that routine visa services will be temporarily suspended at all U.S. embassies and consulates. Further, embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. Please note that services will continue to be available to U.S. citizens, and applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment. For more information, please visit the embassy website that applies to you.

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Coverage by the Occupational Safety and Health Act

The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority. OSHA covers most private sector employers and their workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state program. Workers at state and local government agencies are not covered by Federal OSHA, but have OSH Act protections if they work in those states that have an OSHA-approved state program. Several additional states/territories have OSHA-approved plans that cover public sector workers only. State-run health and safety programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program. To find the contact information for the OSHA Federal or State Program office nearest you, see the Regional and Area Offices map.

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Michigan Emergency Order Summary

Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has issued Executive Order No. 2020-21, entitled “Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” (the “Order”). This alert summarizes the Order. The full text of the Order is available here. Notably, the Order is to be construed “broadly to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life.” Read more…

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IS YOUR BUSINESS ESSENTIAL?

On March 23, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered that that all non-essential
stores and services be closed by Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (the “Order”). This Order follows a series of orders made by the provincial government, pursuant to its powers under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act’, made in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect Ontarians during these unprecedented times. Read more…

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Illinois non-essential businesses forced to close through April 7

On March 20, 2020, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10, widely known as a “shelter-in-place” order, which requires citizens of Illinois “to stay at home or at their place of residence except as allowed in this Executive Order.” The order is effective through the remainder of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, which currently extends through April 7, 2020. The executive order creates exceptions to the stay at home requirement which generally fall into three categories: essential activities, essential government functions, and to operate essential businesses and operations. Read more…

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