Recent Blog Posts
- Back in the Saddle: SEC’s Whistleblower Program Is in Full Swing Under the Biden Administration The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Whistleblower Program under the Biden administration has picked up where it left off under President Obama, aggressively enforcing Rule 21F-17(a) against employers whose policies may impede employees from communicating with the SEC. On June 23, 2021, the SEC fined Guggenheim Securities, LLC (“Guggenheim”) for maintaining a policy that it contended impeded potential whistleblowers from communicating with the SEC by requiring employees to obtain permission before reporting securities violations. Even though the SEC was unaware of... More
- Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Passes in the House for Second Time; More Likely To Become Law On May 14, 2021, the United States House of Representatives passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA” or “HR 1065”) for a second time. With a vote of 315-101, including support from all House Democrats and 99 Republicans, the PWFA now awaits Senate consideration.
As previously reported, the House had originally passed the PWFA on September 14, 2020 (“HR 2694”). While members of congress have introduced versions of the PWFA each term since 2012, last year was the first approval. After... More
- Cal/OSHA Has Approved Revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards Related to COVID-19 Which Are Now in Effect As we previously reported, on June 9, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) Standards Board (“the Board”) withdrew its prior proposed revisions to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”), effectively returning to the original ETS approved in November 2020. A week later, however, on June 17, 2021, the Board approved revisions to the ETS (“Revised ETS”) which, among other things, align with current guidance from the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”)... More
- New York Reaches 70 Percent: What Does That Mean for NY Employers? On June 15, 2021, New York State celebrated reaching 70 percent of its adult population having received at least one vaccination dose. As a result, the State lifted most of its New York Forward industry-specific COVID-19 guidelines—including social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and gathering contact information for tracing—making them optional for most employers. The State has archived its industry-specific reopening guidance, which employers may, but are not required to, continue to follow.
What Obligations Remain for NY Employers?
- COVID Re-Opening Phase 5: What Now for Illinois and Chicago Businesses? On June 11, 2021, Illinois and the City of Chicago entered Phase 5 of its five-stage reopening plans. As part of the transition, Illinois released Executive Order 2021-12 (the “Phase 5 Reopening Order”) and new Phase 5 Guidance. Chicago also issued Phase 5 Recommendations and provided a helpful graphic that provides additional recommendations, which apply to all businesses. For Illinois and Chicago businesses, Phase 5 means a lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions across industries. Although businesses can start operating closer to normal,... More
- Cal/OSHA Sends Shock Waves Throughout California by Withdrawing Revised Emergency Temporary Standards That Would Have Relaxed Some Rules for Fully Vaccinated Employees It has been an active week in California with the release of new statewide face covering guidance, the alignment of Los Angeles County and San Francisco with this guidance, and the withdrawal of the revised Cal/OSHA Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (the “Board”).
Of most importance, covered employers and workplaces must continue to comply with the more restrictive original Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that have been in place... More
- Illinois Lawmakers Pass Numerous Bills Affecting Employers In a flurry of activity into the wee hours of June 2, 2021, Illinois legislators concluded a spring session that saw the passage of numerous measures that will affect employers in the state across the span of the employment relationship. Among the most significant of the many bills heading to Governor Pritzker for signature are acts amending the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (“VESSA”), and the Freedom to Work... More
- New York Hero Act Amendments Passed and Sent to Governor for Signature As we previously reported, on May 5, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act” or “Act”) into law, permanently codifying COVID-19-related health and safety protocols. In a memorandum issued with the signing, Governor Cuomo announced that he had secured an agreement with the Legislature for amendments to the Act to address certain ambiguities and technicalities.
On May 14, 2021, State legislators introduced bills (S6768/A7477) (“Bills” or the “Amendments”) to address some of... More
- Pennsylvania’s Living Donor Protection Act Provides FMLA Leave for Organ Donating Surgery Beginning June 26, 2021, Pennsylvania’s Living Donor Protection Act (the “LDPA”) will provide time off to organ and tissue donors to cover time off for donation surgery, including necessary preparation and recovery.
Pennsylvania employees will be eligible for leave under the LDPA if they meet the following FMLA eligibility criteria: the employee must (1) work for a covered employer, (2) work 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave, (3) work at a location where 50 or... More
- The Blueprint 2.0: California Moves Toward a Full Reopening On May 21, 2021, consistent with Governor Newsom’s intention to fully reopen California by June 15, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) released “Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors” (“Beyond the Blueprint”), outlining the state’s latest reopening guidelines and restrictions. Importantly, as reflected in the CDPH’s announcement, most employers (as discussed below) must still follow the more restrictive Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) (“ETS Standards”) (which we wrote about here), and therefore as a practical... More
- Under Expanded Illinois Kin Care Law, Employees Can Now Use Sick Leave Benefits for the “Personal Care” of a Family Member The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (“Act”) is what is known as a “kin care” law; i.e., it generally requires Illinois employers that provide paid or unpaid personal sick leave benefits to their employees to allow employees to use such leave to attend to a covered family member’s illness or injury, “on the same terms” as the employees would use their sick leave benefits for their own illness or injury. A “covered family member” means an employee’s “child, stepchild, spouse, domestic... More
- Chicago Enacts COVID-19 Vaccine Anti-Retaliation and Time Off Ordinance The City of Chicago recently enacted the Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance.
The Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance allows workers in Chicago – including independent contractors — to get vaccinated during a scheduled “shift,” requires pay for hours taken to get vaccinated (if an employer mandates the vaccine), and prohibits retaliation for getting vaccinated during a scheduled shift.
Specifically, the Chicago Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance provides as follows:
An employer may not require that a worker only be vaccinated during “non-shift” hours or retaliate against a... More
- New York City to Require Sexual Harassment Disclosures for Human Services Contractors On March 3, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio issued Executive Order No. 64 (“EO”), which, effective immediately, imposes new sexual harassment reporting requirements on “human services” providers who contract with the City. The EO requires the Department of Investigation (“DOI”) to review information about sexual harassment complaints and provide its findings to any City agency that contracts with the disclosing provider.
“Human services” is defined by the relevant section of the Administrative Code to include “day care, foster care,... More
- Massachusetts Case Highlights Importance of Clear Communication in Compensation Plans Preparing the terms of employee compensation can be a resource-intensive task requiring input from stakeholders across numerous departments, including human resources, finance, and legal. However, as the Massachusetts Appeals Court’s recent decision in Alfieri v. Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. demonstrates, investing those resources to complete the task will pay dividends when an employer is faced with a potentially costly claim for unpaid wages.
In May 2014, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. sent Michael Alfieri a letter offering him the position of corporate controller. In... More
- Alston v. Spiegel: A Reminder That Sanctions May Provide Employers with a Tool to Deter Frivolous Suits The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are intended to promote the “just, speedy, and inexpensive determination” of lawsuits. For companies defending baseless employment claims, those words may feel like an empty promise. The First Circuit’s recent decision in Alston v. Spiegel sanctioning an attorney for filing frivolous discrimination and retaliation claims, however, reminds employers that there are strategies for deterring such claims
In late 2015, attorney Brooks Ames filed a complaint on behalf of Gerald Alston, a former firefighter for the... More