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TPS Status to End for Immigrants from Four Countries

A decision from a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will end protection for about 300,000 persons who have been living in the U.S. with a Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as to immigrants from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.  Ramos et al. v. Wolf et al., No. 18-16981 (C.A. 9, 9/14/20). 

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Trump's Federal Unemployment Supplement Runs Dry as Congressional Compromise in Doubt

In the absence of a Congressional compromise on additional pandemic federal funding, in August President Trump extended an extra $300.00 per week from the federal government to most unemployment compensation recipients, but the funding has now run out and will not extend beyond the week that ended September 5, 2020.  The Administration is supposedly looking at ways to extend the program even absent Congressional approval. 

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New DOL Joint Employer Rule Rejected in Court

Almost every employer of substantial size deals with contractors of some type, with the most common application being temporary staffing, janitorial services, franchisee-franchisor arrangements, and others.  Under the Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement guidance during the Obama Administration, the guidance expanded the application of the "joint employer" concept so that the immediate employer and any alleged joint employer often were deemed liable for workplace violations, such as minimum wages and overtime to workers.  During the current administration, DOL issued a regulation updating the joint-employer rule whereby joint employment would only be found when a business hires and fires employees; supervises and controls employees' work schedules or conditions of employment to a substantial degree; determines employees' rate and method of payment; or maintains employment records.  The result of the new regulation was to reject joint employer status of companies that stay out of the day-to-day employment decisions of their contractors.  

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Use of COVID-19 Liability Waivers and Related Approaches

Some reports indicate that employees have filed almost 600 COVID-19-related lawsuits against their employers.  As a result, about a dozen states, including Georgia, have passed laws attempting to provide some liability protection from COVID-19 liability.  Georgia's law provides that an employer or other business entities may post a warning at its premises to protect itself from liability due to Coronavirus claims.  The warning states as follows:

Warning: Under Georgia law, there is no liability for an injury or death of an individual entering these premises if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19.  You are assuming this risk by entering these premises.

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NLRB Rules Broader Restrictions in Social Media Policies are Lawful

Employers have long sought to limit adverse comments about the employer, its management, and coworkers, with limitations in handbook and social media policies.  Many of these restrictions have been successfully challenged by employees or unions on the grounds they restrict legitimate "protected or concerted" activities under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  In other words, the Labor Act grants workers broad rights to criticize their employer. 

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EEOC Approves Incentives for Worker Wellness Plans

On June 11, 2020, the EEOC commissioners voted 2-1 to move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for wellness programs.  The EEOC did not actually publish the NPRM and adoption of a final rule is a long way off, in terms of time and procedural steps that must be completed along the way, but the discussion at the June 11 public hearing provided some insight into where the Commission seems to be headed.  Before looking at what we understand from the June 11 meeting, a brief review of where we are may be helpful.

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Several States Pass Protection to Employers from Virus Lawsuits, and Federal Legislation Also Proposed

Several States Pass Protection to Employers from Virus Lawsuits, and Federal Legislation Also Proposed

The State of Georgia has joined several other states in legislation protecting employers from liability related to the Coronavirus.  The Governor is expected to sign the law, thus adding Georgia to Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming having such protection.  The Georgia law would shield employers, healthcare providers and other entities from liability related to the virus except in cases where the entity is found to have committed "gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm."  The State of Georgia has joined several other states in legislation protecting employers from liability related to the Coronavirus.  The Governor is expected to sign the law, thus adding Georgia to Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming having such protection.  The Georgia law would shield employers, healthcare providers and other entities from liability related to the virus except in cases where the entity is found to have committed "gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm."  

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Cultural Sensitivity in Wording Now a Legal Necessity

Cultural Sensitivity in Wording Now a Legal Necessity

While many oppose the concept of "political correctness," in some senses it is now a legal necessity.  And what is deemed culturally sensitive seems to be changing, sometimes in controversial ways. While many oppose the concept of "political correctness," in some senses it is now a legal necessity.  And what is deemed culturally sensitive seems to be changing, sometimes in controversial ways. 

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Employers Increasingly Have To Deal with Walkouts and Other Protests Over Pandemic and Racial Issues

Off-duty issues and activities, and their impact at the workplace, seem to be growing today.  Social media protests have increased since the Black Lives Matter movement has intensified, and pandemic issues are not abating.  Often, both as a practical and legal matter, these issues cannot be kept out of the workplace.Off-duty issues and activities, and their impact at the workplace, seem to be growing today.  Social media protests have increased since the Black Lives Matter movement has intensified, and pandemic issues are not abating.  Often, both as a practical and legal matter, these issues cannot be kept out of the workplace.

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High Court Expands Religious Rights in Various Ways

A trilogy of U.S. Supreme Court rulings have expanded religious rights, with one of the rulings pertaining to most private employers.  In Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Court ruled that the Trump Administration had the right to exempt employers that raised religious or moral objections to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prior requirements that health-insurance plans cover contraceptives.  Justice Thomas wrote for the Court that the ACA gives administrators "broad exception" to carve out religious and moral exemptions, under a law that expressly deals with requiring cost-free "preventive care and screenings" and leaving it to the federal agency to determine what is included.  Justice Thomas wrote that: "It was Congress, not the Department, that declined to expressly require that contraceptive coverage in the ACA itself." 

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Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Discontinue DACA Program

The issue of undocumented immigrants brought into this country as children has long been a controversial one.  Although technically unauthorized, President Obama during his term implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which in essence indicated that the government would not enforce laws against persons brought into this country illegally as children.  The Trump Administration rescinded the non-enforcement policy of the Obama Administration, and the subsequent litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, 18-587. 

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