Tag Archives: EBG

Texas Employees Refusing to Return to Work from COVID-19 Related Reasons May Still Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits

As we previously reported, on Monday, April 27, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Phase One of his much anticipated plan to reopen Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.   In response to this plan to reopen, at limited capacity, retail establishments, restaurants, movies, shopping malls, libraries and museums, starting on May 1, 2020, many Texas workers are weighing the option of returning to work and earning a paycheck against the potential risks of exposure to COVID-19 and forfeiting unemployment benefits.

On Thursday, April 30, 2020 Governor Abbot addressed this issue by announcing that the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) has issued Guidance to unemployment benefits claimants concerning their continued eligibility should they choose not to return to work.  While reinforcing that each claim is assessed on a case-by-case basis, the TWC Guidance outlines specific circumstances under which workers will still be granted unemployment benefits, even if suitable work is available.

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Connecticut Updates Face Mask Rules for Essential Employers

Effective April 17, 2020, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) significantly revised its recently issued Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers (the “Rules”).  Specifically, the Rules have been updated to include a requirement that all employees of essential businesses wear masks while working.  The DECD’s original rules did not contain any provision regarding masks.  Now, the DECD has significantly modified the mask requirements as follows:

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Price Gouging: Perception Is Not Reality

Consumer complaints regarding alleged price gouging have been increasing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Generally, price gouging occurs when there unreasonable increase the price of a consumer good (or service) during a public emergency. Although we are facing a national emergency, except for a March 23, 2020, executive order issued by President Trump prohibiting hoarding and price gouging of certain critical supplies, there is no federal price gouging law. Although there are proposal pending in Congress to more broadly prohibit price gouging, currently, the issue is primarily governed by state law. Most, but not all, states affected by the pandemic have price gouging laws or orders, which typically provide that a consumer may file a complaint with the state’s consumer affairs department that then may be prosecuted (or otherwise resolved) by the state’s Office of the Attorney General.

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New York State Again Revises Paid Election Leave Law

As we previously reported, last year, New York State expanded its election leave law to allow employees more paid time off if needed in order to vote on Election Day (increasing the paid time off from two to three hours). However, in the State’s 2020-21 budget, signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on April 3, 2020, new amendments to New York’s Election Leave Law (Election Law § 3-110) (the “Law”) undo the changes implemented by last year’s legislation and essentially reinstates the prior time-off rules, which provide that if an employee is a registered voter without “sufficient time” outside of scheduled working hours to vote in an election, the employee may take up to two hours of paid time off from work. The Law went into effect immediately.

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Global Lockdown: International Jurisdictions Extend COVID-19 Stay-Home Orders

As we previously reported, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the global workplace and international employer-employee relations in profound ways. As COVID-19 continues to spread, countries have enacted nationwide orders, requiring billions of people to stay at home. Recently, in an effort to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, several countries have extended national stay-home orders. The ordered restrictions vary according to jurisdiction specific reasons.

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OSHA Releases COVID-19 Industry Alert for Package Delivery Industry

On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an industry-specific alert for the package delivery industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The alert provides guidance tailored to the package delivery industry, but it is equally useful for any company using its own employees to deliver goods to customers or clients.

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OSHA Releases Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19

On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (‘OSHA”) of the U.S. Department of Labor issued a guidance memorandum (“Memorandum”) to its Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling COVID-19 referrals, complaints, and severe illness reports.

The Memorandum articulates the procedures OSHA will use to prioritize enforcement responses, and details measures for protecting OSHA employees from the workplace hazard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), i.e., the virus causing the current COVID-19 pandemic, when conducting inspections. The Memorandum, which is “intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis,” became effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice.

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New Jersey Amends State WARN Act to Exclude COVID-Related Layoffs and to Postpone the Effective Date of Mandatory Severance

On April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a new amendment (“New Amendment”) to the New Jersey Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, commonly referred to as the New Jersey WARN Act (“NJ WARN Act”), which was modified in January of this year, to among other things, require payment of severance to eligible employees who suffer a NJ WARN Act covered termination of employment and to require 90 days’ notice of such terminations (the “January Amendment,” which we discussed previously here).

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Connecticut Passes Workplace Rules for Essential Employers

On April 7, 2019, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7V (“Order 7V”), requiring that “[e]very workplace in the State of Connecticut shall take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between and among employees, customers, and other persons such as delivery drivers, maintenance people or others who may enter the workplace.” Order 7V, available here, directed the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Department of Health (DPH) to issue “legally binding statewide rules” prescribing additional protective measures for “essential” businesses and nonprofits and any other businesses permitted to operate pursuant to Gov. Lamont’s prior Order 7H, available here.

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D.C. Amends ASSLA to Require Paid Declaration-of-Emergency Paid Leave for COVID-19 Related Reasons, in Addition to Any Other Available Federal, District or Employer-Provided Leave

On April 10, 2020, the District of Columbia enacted the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-286) (the “Emergency Act”).  Among other things, Section 103 of the Emergency Act amends the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (“ASSLA”) to require employers with between 50-499 employees to provide paid declared emergency leave (“DOE Paid Leave”) for any reason allowed by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Emergency Act is effective immediately and will remain in effect through July 9, 2020, unless extended.

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