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The Costs of Not Taking COVID-19 Seriously

By all accounts, the number of COVID-19 infections (and deaths) are on the rise and are likely to increase even more after Thanksgiving. At the same time, there is a great political divide as to how seriously folks take the virus. Politics aside, what are some of the potential costs to your business if you fail to take COVID-19 seriously?

As an initial matter, when I talk about taking COVID-19 seriously, I mean that your business is following CDC guidelines, which provides strategies and recommendations for employers responding to COVID-19, which include disinfecting, hand washing, social distancing, and the wearing of masks. Employers should also be familiar with OSHA guidance, which focuses on jobs classified as having low, medium, high, and very high exposure risks, and provides specific recommendations for employers and workers within specific risk categories.

So what are some of the potential business consequences of failing to take COVID-19 seriously?

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Jurors Say the Darnedest Things

During a trial, lawyers can be so focused on the law and facts of a case that they may not recognize that jurors may be focused on different things entirely. A federal case out of Connecticut makes this point quite nicely. (SEC v. Westport Capital Markets, LLC, No. 3:17-cv-02064 (JAM)(D.C. Conn., 10/26/20). It is not a labor or employment case, but the conduct of a particular juror is so interesting I had to write about it.

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Do I Need To Give My Employees Time Off to Vote?

Election Day is one week away, so it is a good time for employers to review the laws governing voting leave in the states where they do business. Chances are that you may be required to give employees some time off to vote.

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Sorry Dude: Title VII Does Not Protect An Expectant Father From Pregnancy Discrimination

xpectant father in New York tried to assert such a claim under Title VII and New York law, and the lawsuit was dismissed. (Van Soeren v. Disney Streaming Serv. , S.D.N.Y., 19 Civ. 10196 (NRB), 10/16/20). Not surprisingly, the Court held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of pregnancy applies to employees who are actually pregnant, and not to spouses of pregnant employees.

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Can You Require Your Employees to Be Vaccinated for COVID-19?

As we hopefully get closer to a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, employers may be wondering whether they can require employees to be vaccinated. The answer is Yes, with some important exceptions. An employer that implements a rule that requires employees to be vaccinated must build in exemptions for religion and disability.

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Employee or Independent Contractor? DOL Issues Proposed Worker Classification Rule

Worker classification is a hot issue right now. The recent California law that classifies most workers as employees has completely upended the gig economy in that state, so it is no surprise that the law is being challenged by a number of business groups.

Under federal law, whether an employer classifies a worker as an employee or an independent contractor can have major economic consequences, especially if the worker is misclassified. For example, wrongly misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for unpaid minimum wage and/or overtime compensation. Multiplied by two if the misclassification is considered a willful violation of the FLSA.

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule offering what it claims to be clarity to determine whether a worker is an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or an independent contractor.

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Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA: The Pandemic Trial Run

In the times before COVID-19, there were people (like the author) who telecommuted, but we were definitely in the minority. Now, thanks to the pandemic, many more people have been working remotely and doing so successfully. And according to some new EEOC Guidance, successful telecommuting could be considered something of a trial run for those employees who ask to work remotely after the pandemic as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

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DOL Issues New Guidance: No FFCRA Paid Leave If School Is Open But Parent Chooses Remote Learning

Yesterday, the Department of Labor issued some new guidance on the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA). The new guidance addresses the availability of paid leave to parents who are choosing to let their children go to school remotely.

By way of background, the FFCRA requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

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Hey Georgia Businesses: Is Your COVID Warning Sign Compliant?

Hey Georgia Businesses: Is Your COVID Warning Sign Compliant?

As I discussed in an earlier blog post, this month, Georgia enacted a COVID immunity law. Georgia businesses will generally be protected from liability over COVID-19 exposure except in cases of gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. In addition, Georgia businesses that post a warning sign will be entitled to additional protection from liability due to a rebuttable presumption of assumption of the risk by a claimant.

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