Jeffrey Ruzal Quoted in “Remote Workers Pay Cooling Bills or Sweat Out Summer Heat at Home”

Marketplace

Jeffrey H. Ruzal, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Marketplace, in “Remote Workers Pay Cooling Bills or Sweat Out Summer Heat at Home,” by Meghan McCarty Carino.

Following is an excerpt:

This holiday weekend brought a record-busting heat wave to much of the West. Los Angeles recorded its highest temperature ever, with part of the city reaching 121 degrees Sunday. It been a hotter than average summer across the country — one that many workers experienced from home instead of their climate-controlled offices. So how have remote workers been coping without industrial grade HVAC systems? From the workplace culture desk, now located in one very hot apartment, Marketplace’s Megan McCarty Carino has the story. …

An analysis by Riordan Frost, research analyst at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, found that electricity use has decreased overall during the pandemic, but residential energy use is up.

“So basically, there has been a transfer of burden from the commercial and industrial sectors to the residential sector,” Frost said.

And workers are — for the most part — paying for it themselves, said Jeffrey Ruzal, an employment law attorney at Epstein Becker Green in New York City. …

“Most states actually do not have reimbursement requirements with respect to what employers have to pay to employees who work from home,” he said.

Some states like California and Illinois do have stricter laws requiring employers to reimburse employees for work expenses at home. Until now, those have mostly applied to things like cell phone bills or internet service, but he thinks the current situation could force a change.

“I think in the next few months, we are going to see a closer look by the courts and departments of labor and other agencies to see whether there should be consideration of air conditioning and other electricity usage for working-from-home scenarios,” he said.

Because as hard as it may be to imagine from a steamy home office now, a cold winter and its heating bills are just around the corner.