On August 5, 2020, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a guidance addressing employees and the use of codeine, oxycodone, and other opioids. This guidance explains the nondiscrimination and reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that are applicable those not engaged in current, illegal drug use and who are qualified for employment. This information is not new policy, instead it applies principles already established in the ADA, clarifies existing legal requirements, and discusses the following:
On July 28, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released FAQs for Employers under Section 5/2-108 for the employer disclosure requirements under the state’s Workplace Transparency Act (IWTA).
Under the IWTA, beginning July 1, 2020 and by each July 1 thereafter, each employer that had an adverse judgment or administrative ruling (ruling) against it in the preceding calendar year must annually report the following to the IDHR:
The FAQs discuss:
On August 3, 2020, the U.S. District Court of New York (SDNY) issued a ruling invalidating features of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), specifically involving the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). SDNY’s jurisdiction covers the counties of New York, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan.
According to the ruling:
It is predicted that this ruling will be appealed. We will be following the case, and its continued impact, throughout the legal process.
On July 24, 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing released an updated guidance for employers about COVID-19 addressing:
On August 4, 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing released sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training for supervisory employees. This training meets the legal requirement that employers with five or more employees provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training and education to all supervisory employees in California by January 1, 2021.
The law also requires nonsupervisory employees to receive one hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training, which must include practical examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Employers must also:
On July 31, 2020, the California Department of Public Health updated its COVID-19 Employer Playbook For a Safe Reopening to require employers to contact the local health department in any jurisdiction where an employee lives when there is a COVID-19 workplace outbreak. An outbreak is three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a two-week period among employees who live in different households.
The updated guide also:
Read more about how businesses can protect their workers and customers on the department’s website.
In July 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Council released the following approved employment regulations:
The DFEH also released its harassment prevention training regulations, which are not yet finalized but are intended to be effective January 1, 2021.
On June 18, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation (SF 2338) enacting the Iowa COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act. Under the act, an individual must experience actual injury to bring a lawsuit alleging that they were exposed to COVID-19, such as a medical condition, an action intended to cause harm or that constitutes actual malice. The act also generally protects premise owners against liability when someone on their premises is exposed to COVID-19, unless the owner:
The act also creates safe harbor protections by limiting civil damage liability for any injuries sustained from COVID-19 exposure, or potential exposure, if the act or omission alleged to violate a duty of care complied with an applicable COVID-19 federal or state statute, regulation, order, or public health guidance that was effective when the exposure occurred.
The law took effect July 1, 2020 but applies retroactively to January 1, 2020.
On July 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a Request for Information (ROI) about the impact of paid family and medical leave on America’s workforce. Specifically, the DOL’s Women’s Bureau is requesting comments on the effectiveness of current state- and employer-provided paid leave programs and the impact that access or lack of access to paid leave programs has on women and their families. According to Women’s Bureau Director, Dr. Laurie Todd-Smith, “Expanding workplace flexibility has long been a priority of the Women’s Bureau. Paid leave may also be valuable in enhancing the upward mobility of women workers and the well-being of American families.”
The information provided will help the DOL identify promising practices related to eligibility requirements, related costs, administrative models of existing paid leave programs, and access to information about paid leave. The ROI’s comment period will remain open for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. Here are instructions for submitting comments to the Federal Register.
On July 13, 2020, the New York City Department of Health released frequently asked questions about face coverings and directed New Yorkers to wear a face covering whenever they are with other people when they are indoors, not at home, even if six feet of distance can be maintained. The FAQs also address what a face covering is, who must wear a face covering, and their use in the workplace. Of note, these recommendations may change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.