Michigan Passes COVID-19 Laws Including a Liability Shield for Employers and Enhanced Worker Protections

October has brought a weekly flurry of changes to Michigan’s COVID-19 legal landscape. [1] On Thursday October 22, 2020, Governor Whitmer added to this recent activity by signing three bills into law that provide employers with significant liability protection and employees with job protections related to COVID-19.

Employer Protections: Liability Shield

Titled the “COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act,” HB 6030 provides employers with immunity from liability for a “COVID-19 claim” as long as the employer acted in compliance with all federal, state and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders related to COVID-19. A “COVID-19 claim” is defined to include a tort claim or tort cause of action for damages, losses, indemnification, or other relief arising out of or in any way related to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19 or to conduct intended to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. In addition, HB 6031 [2] amends the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act and affords liability protection to employers for an employee’s exposure to COVID-19, as long as the employer operated in compliance all federal, state and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders related to COVID-19.

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Privacy and Security Considerations for Employers Grappling with Introducing Social Distancing and Contact Tracing Technologies in the Workplace

As employers continue their efforts to safely bring employees back to the workplace, many have moved beyond initial pre-entry wellness checks or questionnaires and are considering technology solutions that monitor social distancing and conduct contact tracing in real-time. Along with introducing these enhanced capabilities, the question of the privacy and security of employee personally identifiable information (“PII”) and protected health information (“PHI”) continues to loom.

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Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Returning Employees and Benefits Considerations

During the coronavirus pandemic, businesses were faced with myriad important employment considerations, including the difficult decision of having to furlough or lay off employees. Even those that did not take such actions may have had far more employees requesting a leave of absence than in prior years, especially as a result of the new legislation enacted to address the crisis. The employment changes that occurred as
a result of the pandemic have caused employers to focus on employee leave administration. Employers have had to consider a number of legal requirements in connection with those employment changes and continue to grapple with these requirements as they bring employees back to work. In addition, employers must consider the potential impact these employment changes may have on the employer’s benefit and compensation programs as they bring employees back, and will need to familiarize themselves with a number of legal requirements as they do so. Read more…

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The Growing Social Movement Supporting Benefit Corporations and Certified B Corps is Here to Stay

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the concept of the common good and safety of the community to the forefront of business discussions. These themes are accelerating more discussion in business circles in Ohio and throughout the nation regarding the benefit corporation movement.  This movement appears to be here to stay. Read more…

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CCPA Updates for Late 2020

On October 12, 2020, the California Attorney General issued its notice and third set of proposed modifications to the regulations implementing the California Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”). These proposed modifications would change the regulations that were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law on August 14, 2020. The California Department of Justice is accepting written comments from the public on these proposed revisions to the regulations until October 28, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

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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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