Tag Archives: technology

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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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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EEOC Updates Guidance on COVID-19 and Compliance with Antidiscrimination Laws

On April 9, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its latest guidance (“Guidance”) for employers on how to ensure compliance with their obligations under federal antidiscrimination laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we previously reported, the EEOC’s initial guidance on COVID-19 was released on March 17, 2020, as a series of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”). Two days later, the agency updated its publication titled “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” (“ADA”), originally prepared during the H1N1 outbreak, to address issues specifically concerning COVID-19. The EEOC’s Guidance, which adds to its previous FAQs, again focuses primarily on employers’ obligations under the ADA.

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Department of Labor Releases OSHA Enforcement Guidance For Recording Cases of COVID-19

As we previously reported in our “Summary of OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has provided detailed directions for employers with respect to ensuring an OSHA-compliant workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.  On April 10, 2020, the DOL issued a memorandum providing interim guidance on enforcement of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as they relate to recording cases of COVID-19. 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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Major Cities in Texas Enter “Stay at Home” Orders: Implications and Other Considerations for Employers

On March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott declared a State of Disaster in Texas due to COVID-19. Subsequently, on March 19. 2020, Governor Abbott issued a Public Health Disaster Declaration, and an Executive Order, which, among other things, prohibited congregating in groups consisting of more than ten people, and closed all Texas restaurant dining rooms [1] bars, gyms and schools, effective March 20, 2020.  Governor Abbott has refrained from issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order, and has instead left the decision up to city and county leaders.  In the days that followed, and throughout this week, 16 counties, and major cities in Texas, including Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio have issued “Stay at Home” orders, which share many similarities, with a few distinctions.  The following are summaries of the key aspects of the orders that may impact the workplace, followed by a glossary defining some of the key terms in the orders.

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New Jersey Extends Benefits and Protections to Workers Impacted by COVID-19

On March 25, 2020, by signing legislative bill S2304 into law, Governor Philip Murphy expanded the availability of benefits under the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (“TDI”) and Family Leave Insurance (“FLI”) programs to employees impacted by epidemic-related illnesses such as COVID-19.  The new law (“Law”) provides numerous key changes to the existing statutory scheme for state-issued disability insurance benefits, family leave insurance benefits, and use of accrued paid sick time.

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