Labor & Employment Law Perspectives

While significant ink was spilled last summer evaluating whether Congress would pass the HEROES Act – House Democrats’ $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the federal government was ultimately unable to implement an aid package that included, among other provisions, mandated “hazard pay” for essential workers.  In response, several local and municipal governments have taken up the call and have recently implemented laws to require additional wage premiums for employees in the grocery and pharmacy industries. …
About a year into the pandemic, the California Labor Commissioner recently imposed fines on a Los Angeles fast food franchisee.  In doing so, the commissioner determined that the franchisee fired four employees after the employees reported they feared exposure to COVID-19 due to unsafe working conditions.  According to a press release, before their terminations, the employees reported their concerns to their employer and to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the…
The practice of “rounding” time punches—adjusting the hours that an employee has actually worked to the nearest preset time increment—is generally lawful where it does not result in, over time, undercompensating employees for all the time they actually worked.  Such rounding practices have survived numerous legal challenges regarding an employer’s obligation to maintain accurate time records and compensate employees for total hours worked.  But no case had answered the question of whether a rounding practice…
On February 23, 2021, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a bill with veto-proof majorities in both chambers that would shield employers from civil liability for “any act or failure to act resulting in or relating to a person’s exposure to the novel coronavirus identified as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 in the course of or through the performance or provision of the entity’s functions or services.”  The immunity from civil liability would apply retroactively to claims accruing…
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year (in the “Bostock” case) that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status, many predicted the ruling would extend to other anti-discrimination laws in areas such as housing, health care, education, and public accommodations. Those predictions are becoming reality. Your business should already have in place anti-discrimination policies, training, and practices for employees. As discussed…
In the past decade, the prevalence of videoconferencing, social media, and other technological platforms have flooded college dorm rooms and boardroom meetings alike. The ubiquity of these technologies is unavoidable, and employees, sometimes with the encouragement of businesses, use them increasingly often as they choose to operate in a more causal and oftentimes remote fashion. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created a particular spike in videoconferencing, the elevated use of remote work technologies and social…
Last month, the mayor of the District of Columbia signed a near-total ban on noncompete provisions used by D.C. employers to protect their business interests. We have previously written about a possible federal noncompete ban and indications that states are moving in the same direction. The new D.C. law will raise a number of questions that may not be resolved until courts sort through many difficult enforcement issues arising out of the language. The bill…
Last week, recently appointed acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Peter Ohr withdrew 10 separate guidance memos that were issued by his predecessor Peter Robb (a 2017 Trump appointee).  These actions represent the start of the Biden era of labor relations and employers should brace themselves for some pretty significant changes.  To understand what is going on at the Board and at what employers should expect in the months to come,…
We have issued several recent alerts regarding potential new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 standards, particularly in light of the new Biden administration. Indeed, within the first 48 hours of his presidency, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing the Labor Department to “take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.” Guidance OSHA issued on January 29, 2021,  (the “Guidance”) suggests that OSHA is…
Even before COVID-19, many businesses had employees residing in states other than where the company may have its corporate headquarters or larger facilities with a dedicated human resources team. Certainly, a trend exacerbated by COVID-19 is for employees to work remotely in other states, from vacation properties or long-term rentals. As we recently reported, remote workers raise certain state tax issues because each state has particular tax withholding obligations. Continuing to withhold employment taxes…