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.
May 4, 2020
Many U.S. businesses are starting to prepare for phased returns to the workplace. Employers’ planning should consider the impact that various return-to-work approaches may have on their employee benefits and compensation programs and, in addition, how some innovative employee benefits and compensation programs may enhance workplace morale and productivity by assisting employees transitioning back to the workplace. The following summarizes some of the important benefits and compensation issues to keep in mind as employees return-to-work.
May 1, 2020
On April 29, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council simultaneously passed two ordinances in response to COVID-19 that could potentially have long lasting and far reaching impacts on applicable businesses: the Right of Recall Ordinance and the Worker Retention Ordinance. The Mayor has until May 11, 2020, to act on both of the ordinances. These ordinances, pending approval of the Mayor, will be effective 31 days from their publication date.
May 1, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to limit its spread caused a sudden and dramatic shutdown of large sections of the U.S. economy. Governmental shelter in place orders requiring non-essential businesses to temporarily close forced untold numbers of businesses to furlough or terminate most, and in many cases all, of their employees with little or no warning. For larger employers, mass layoffs and terminations of operations such as these, would normally trigger notification requirements under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act (as well as state WARN-type laws, where applicable).
April 30, 2020
On Monday, April 27, 2020, Governor Gregory Abbott announced Phase One of his much anticipated plan to reopen Texas, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Governor Abbott accompanied his announcement by issuing Texas Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas (“Report”), and Executive Order No. GA-18 (“EO GA-18” or “Order”), pursuant to which all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries are allowed to reopen on Friday, May 1, 2020, with a 25% occupancy limitation. Within shopping malls and museums, all interactive areas must remain closed, as well as food-court dining and play areas. EO GA-18 allows for increased occupancy limits of up to 50% in rural areas and counties with five or fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19, as verified by the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”).
April 24, 2020
On the heels of adding Return to Work guidance to its technical assistance for employers, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Law” (discussed here), on April 23, 2020 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued an update addressing COVID-19 testing by employers. This latest guidance acknowledges that COVID-19 presents a direct threat to the health of others sufficient to justify testing. It cautions, however, that employers should only use tests that are “accurate and reliable.” Specifically the FAQ states: