On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Interim Final Rule (the “Rule”) in a 5-4 decision, staying the preliminary injunctions issued for 24 states by the District Courts for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Western District of Louisiana.  Therefore, the CMS vaccine mandate is in full effect for all states except Texas, which was not part of the cases before the Court.  The Rule requires nearly all workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities—whether medical personnel, volunteers, janitorial staff, or even contractors who service the facilities—to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Lifts Preliminary Injunctions on Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate

On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court granted emergency relief to the petitions of numerous states, businesses, and non-governmental organizations by staying the implementation and enforcement of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”).  Under the original ETS, private employers with 100 or more employees were required to implement a mandatory vaccination or weekly testing/face covering policy, which constituted a drastic change in policy for many employers and contradicted many state requirements.  Although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has yet to ultimately decide on the merits whether the ETS can stand, the stay by the Supreme Court indicates how the Court may ultimately view the ETS and OSHA’s authority to require vaccinations and weekly testing.  Nonetheless, the ETS is not dead yet, so employers should continue to monitor the appeal process and OSHA’s response to the stay.

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Stays Implementation of OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS Requiring Vaccination or Weekly Testing Policy

For the second time, the standards-setting board for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) has readopted, with revisions, the agency’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”).  The revised ETS become effective on January 14, 2022, and impose new obligations on nearly all employers in the Golden State.

Continue Reading California Employers Face New Obligations Under Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 ETS

On December 22, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued an order requiring workers in health care facilities to receive booster vaccinations to help combat COVID-19. Health care workers must receive the booster vaccine by February 1, 2022.

Continue Reading California Department of Public Health Requires Health Care Workers to Receive the Booster Vaccine by February 1, 2022

On December 17, 2021, in a “Friday Night Surprise” the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the Stay on the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  This seminal ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees and requires that employees be either (1) vaccinated; or (2) weekly tested and fully masked if unvaccinated.  While it is anticipated that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the ETS stands, OSHA has already stated that they will begin enforcement of the ETS in January 2022.  Specifically, OSHA will enforce all requirements except testing for unvaccinated employees beginning January 10, 2022, and enforcement related to testing will begin February 9, 2022.

Continue Reading OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard Survival Guide

On November 4, 2021, in response to President Biden’s Executive Order, the Department of Labor, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”).  You can read our prior article about the ETS here.  Generally, the ETS mandates all employers with 100 or more employees to require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.  The ETS was immediately halted when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a temporary stay.  Then, numerous lawsuits were filed across the nation, and actions were pending in each of the other Circuit Courts.  The Sixth Circuit “won” the multidistrict lottery, and was selected to hear the combined challenges, including OSHA’s emergency motion to dissolve the stay.  You can read our prior article about the temporary stay here.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Reinstates OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Private Employers Mandating COVID-19 Vaccinations or Weekly Testing

On December 6, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a vaccine mandate which requires that all private sector employees who work in a workplace in the presence of another worker, or who interact with a member of the public, be vaccinated by December 27, 2021.  The mandate applies to approximately 184,000 businesses in the City.  It extends a vaccine mandate to those employees who were not previously covered by the “Key to NYC” vaccination requirements.  Accordingly, private sector employees who report to work in person or interact with the public will need to be vaccinated by December 27.

Continue Reading New York City Requires Private Sector Employees to Be Vaccinated by December 27

On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued binding guidance requiring all Californians statewide to mask indoors irrespective of vaccination status. The new guidance supersedes California’s current guidance, which only requires masks for individuals on public transit and in K-12 schools and childcare facilities, emergency shelters and cooling centers, healthcare settings, state and local correctional facilities and detention centers, homeless shelters, long term care settings, adult and senior care facilities, and for unvaccinated individuals in all indoor public settings and businesses. The new guidance will go into effect on December 15, 2021, and will continue through at least January 15, 2022.

Continue Reading California Department of Public Health Requires Universal Indoor Masking Through January

On November 23, 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill requiring New York City employers to provide employees who are parents or legal guardians of a child with four hours of paid COVID-19 child vaccination time, per injection and per child (“Child Vaccination Leave”).  The bill amends New York City’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Act, and is currently awaiting Mayor de Blasio’s signature.  The legislation is retroactive to November 2, 2021 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in children aged 5 to 11 years old.

Continue Reading NYC Council Passes Bill Granting Paid Sick Leave to Parents Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19

On November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its much-anticipated mandate-or-test workplace vaccine emergency rule (“the Rule”).  The Rule requires employers with 100 or more employees to either mandate covered employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require covered employees that are not fully vaccinated to test for COVID-19 at least weekly and wear a face covering.  The Rule went into effect immediately on November 5 with employers expected to comply by no later than January 4, but implementation has since been halted due to pending legal challenges.  For more information of the Rule requirements and specifics, see our prior article It’s Here: OSHA’s Rule Mandating COVID Vaccinations or Weekly Testing for Employers.

Continue Reading Challenged – OSHA’s Rule Mandating COVID Vaccinations or Weekly Testing for Employers Halted

On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) expanded its prior guidance “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” to include recommendations for employers who receive religious objections from employees in response to the employer’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.  Specifically, the EEOC added section L to its prior guidance, which addresses specific questions relating to religious objections.  The newly added questions are set forth below.  All employers should review and familiarize themselves with this guidance as they continue to face objections and accommodation requests from employees with respect to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Continue Reading EEOC Publishes New Guidance Regarding Objections to COVID-19 Vaccines Based Upon Employee Religious Beliefs