June 2, 2020
On April 30, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont released a four-stage plan to reopen business in Connecticut when the following conditions were met: (1) sustained 14-day decline in hospitalizations; (2) adequate testing capacity; (3) contact tracing system in place; and (4) sufficient personal protection equipment (“PPE”). Governor Lamont identified May 20 as the tentative reopening date.
Meanwhile, on May 9, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (“DECD”) issued detailed rules for the business sectors that are permitted to reopen as part of Phase 1 reopening plans. The rules stated that the safeguards will “gradually loosen” as a defined set of public health metrics are met, which is expected to occur “over the coming months through September 2020.”
May 29, 2020
On May 27, 2020, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Order 0202-067, which details the Phase One limited reopening of non-essential businesses in Washington, D.C., to begin on Friday, May 29, 2020. The Mayor’s decision to begin to reopen D.C. follows on the heels of prior orders of Governors Larry Hogan and Ralph Northam to reopen neighboring Maryland and Virginia, respectively. Governor Hogan allowed certain nonessential businesses in Maryland to reopen on May 15, 2020, and on May 27, 2020, he issued Order 20-05-27-01, expanding its phase one reopening. Governor Northam’s Executive Order 61 eased certain temporary restrictions throughout most of the Commonwealth of Virginia beginning on May 15, 2020, and Executive Order 62 permits the Northern Virginia Region, Richmond, and Accomack County to begin reopening on May 29, 2020.
May 27, 2020
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: To support employee mental health, employers have important tools available, such as telemental health benefits, vacation, leave, and the interactive accommodation process. Watch for a few quick tips.
Video: YouTube, Vimeo, MP4, Instagram.
May 21, 2020
On May 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued two COVID-19 related Enforcement Memos to provide updated guidance to OSHA investigators: (1) Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (“Revised Recordkeeping Guidance”), which reinstates employers’ recordkeeping obligations for COVID-19 cases (29 CFR Part 1904) and (2) Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (“Updated Enforcement Response Plan Guidance”), which generally returns to pre-COVID investigation policies, except to maintain COVID-19-related cases as a top priority and mandate the following of certain COVID-19-related precautions.
May 18, 2020
The National Labor Relations Board (“Board” or “NLRB”) on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, overruled decades of convoluted Board precedent regarding “dual-marked ballots” in union representation elections – establishing a new bright line test. A “dual-marked ballot,” to put it simply, is a ballot that has markings in or around both the “YES” and “NO” box, thus, making it difficult, if not impossible, to tell whether the employee who cast the ballot actually intended to vote for or against union representation. Indeed, a dual-marked ballot might also mean that the employee who completed the ballot actually did not want to take a position either way. The treatment of such a single dual-marked ballot can have dramatic consequences in a close election, as was the case in Providence Health & Services.
May 15, 2020
To limit exposure and reduce the spread of COVID-19, New York and New Jersey are requiring long-term care facilities to implement testing for staff.
On May 11, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.30 requiring nursing homes and adult care facilities, including all adult homes, enriched housing programs and assisted living residences (“facilities”), to test all staff for COVID-19 twice per week. Staff who refuse to be tested will be deemed to have incomplete health assessment and will be prohibited from providing services until the test has been performed.
May 12, 2020
Failing a drug test may not kill the buzz for medical marijuana patients in the Empire State. In contrast to courts in California and other jurisdictions, a New York state court has held that medical marijuana users are entitled to reasonable accommodations, even if they only obtain certification after testing positive for marijuana.
In Gordon v. Consolidated Edison, Inc., Kathleen Gordon failed a random drug test by her employer, Consolidated Edison, Inc. (“CEI”). After testing positive, but before her termination, Gordon became a certified medical marijuana patient to treat her inflammatory bowel disease. Gordon informed CEI of her certified status on several occasions between the time she failed her drug test and her termination date. Gordon brought an action alleging discrimination and failure to accommodate under New York State and City Human Rights Laws (“NYSHRL” and “NYCHRL”), as well as the State’s medical marijuana law. Because New York’s medical marijuana law provides that certified patients are disabled for purposes of the NYSHRL, Gordon claimed protected status.
May 12, 2020
The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented number of layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”), when employment is terminated or hours are reduced and there is a loss of coverage, employers (generally those with 20 or more employees) must provide notices to covered employees and their covered spouses and dependent children explaining that they have the right to elect to continue receive health care coverage. In addition, when a covered employee dies, COBRA requires employers to notify the employee’s spouse and dependent children that they have the right to elect to continue health coverage. On May 1, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a new model general notice and election notice (“Notices”) for the purpose of providing more information about how Medicare and COBRA interact. In Frequently Asked Questions, issued with the Notices, the DOL states that employers may use the Notices to satisfy their COBRA notice obligations.
May 8, 2020
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: As employers continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many executives are taking pay cuts or forgoing pay to help businesses stay afloat. This is affecting executive contracts and compensation packages, and could result in significant changes in the future. Attorneys Gretchen Harders and Rina Fujii tell us more.
May 7, 2020
The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (“Relief Fund”) to support eligible health care providers. Less than a month later, Congress passed the Payroll Protection Program and Health Care Act, providing an additional $75 billion to the Relief Fund, raising the total funds available to $175 billion. As of the end of April 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released to providers two tranches of Relief Funds totaling $50 billion. HHS disbursed the first $30 billion tranche (“Tranche 1”) between April 10 and April 17, 2020. Currently, HHS is disbursing the second $20 billion tranche (“Tranche 2”). Because these are grant funds – not loans – repayment is not required. What HHS requires is that the Recipients attest to and follow the Relief Fund’s Terms and Conditions. Before we turn to the Terms and Conditions, it is important to understand HHS’ Relief Fund disbursement process.