The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine guidance for employers on December 16, 2020, providing answers related to workplace requirements about COVID-19 vaccines. With COVID-19 vaccinations underway in the U.S., the deployment poses complex questions for employers determining whether to mandate vaccines for all employees and how to manage such mandates. Although the EEOC acknowledges that federal employment laws do not prevent employers from following guidelines from public health authorities, the administration of vaccines to employees raises legal issues employers should consider. This article discusses the EEOC’s new guidance and the process required for employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their workforces.
Continue Reading EEOC Takes a Shot at COVID-19: Unvaccinated Employees Can be Excluded From the Workplace

On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously adopted emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace.  For much of the pandemic, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) has advised employers to follow its general and industry-specific guidance on various measures to implement to minimize the risk of employees’ exposure to COVID-19.  However, the new emergency standards will be binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers.  The emergency standards will become effective immediately on November 30, 2020, if approved as expected by the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) after the required 10-day review period.  Thus, employers must act quickly to ensure they are in compliance with the new standards and the requirement to prepare and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 Emergency Standards Requiring Immediate Action by Employers in California

On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, establishing new requirements for employers to notify employees and their unions about a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.  The new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, also requires employers to report a COVID-19 “outbreak” at the worksite to local health authorities.  Further, AB 685 relaxes the pre-citation requirements that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) must follow before issuing a citation for a serious violation related to COVID-19.  This article breaks down the various requirements of the new law and identifies potential complications or issues that employers should be aware of when attempting to comply with the new requirements.
Continue Reading Enactment of AB 685 Establishes COVID-19 Exposure Notice Requirements for California Employers and Cal/OSHA Enforcement Changes

On September 19, 2020, California’s new law requiring large employers to provide employees with COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“CSPSL”) becomes effective.  The new CSPSL requirement will be codified as Labor Code section 248.1 and was enacted via Assembly Bill (AB) 1867, which Governor Newsom signed into law on September 9, 2020.  In addition to addressing other leave and COVID-19 related items, AB 1867 also codified the existing CSPSL requirements for certain food sector workers under Executive Order N-51-20 as new Labor Code section 248.  In an effort to get employers up to speed on both section 248 and 248.1, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) published its responses to frequently asked questions on the new requirement to provide CSPSL.  This article briefly summarizes the key requirements of the new CSPSL law for non-food sector workers and identifies specific issues that employers in California should attend to as they hastily roll out the leave to employees.
Continue Reading What Employers Need to Know About California’s New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

Beginning July 27, 2020, Virginia will become one of the first states to implement comprehensive, mandatory safety regulations for employees returning to work during and post-COVID.  In a press release last week, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board had voted to adopt an emergency temporary standard, §16VAC25-220, which is designed to “control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of” COVID-19.
Continue Reading Safety Protocols in the Face of COVID: What New Virginia Safety Standards Require of Employers

On July 2, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published an FAQ web page based on COVID-19 related inquiries that the agency received from the public.  The FAQ page provides a central location for information and links on a variety of topics related to best practices to ensure worker safety and protect workers’ rights during the ongoing pandemic.  Although the majority of the guidance contained in OSHA’s responses is not new, employers should review the FAQ page to ensure their health and safety policies and procedures follow OSHA’s recommendations.  This article lists the topics covered by the new FAQ page and identifies a few topics that may be of particular interest to employers.
Continue Reading OSHA Publishes Responses to Frequently Asked Questions on Worker Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 17, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued its “Guidance on Returning to Work.”  This new guidance is intended to supplement the previous “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” that OSHA published in March.  Most non-essential businesses throughout the country have already reopened and returned at least some portion of their workforce to the workplace.  However, with the risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 still present, employers must continue to monitor and follow new and evolving federal, state, and local guidance aimed at protecting the safety and health of employees.  OSHA’s new guidance contains “guiding principles” that OSHA recommends employers incorporate into their reopening plans.  In addition, the new guidance provides OSHA’s responses to frequently asked questions on testing and screening employees and identifies specific OSHA standards and requirements that are applicable to minimizing occupational exposure to COVID-19.  Because much of the new guidance deals with mitigation measures that many employers have already implemented, this article seeks to assist employers with understanding specific directives and concerns in the guidance that are new or may have been overlooked previously.
Continue Reading OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Answering Practical Questions on Returning to Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the central role local and long haul trucking companies and drivers play in the overall U.S. economy and specifically our public health infrastructure.  Now, as states and businesses around the country gradually reopen and truck deliveries begin to ramp up, employers in the commercial trucking industry should be aware of recent changes to Hours of Service regulations as well as COVID-19-related guidance on keeping employees and the general public healthy and safe.  By updating their policies and procedures and enacting responsible safety measures, motor carriers will be in the best position to weather the storm of this pandemic and avoid the risks associated with employment litigation and compliance pitfalls.
Continue Reading Overview of Recent Updates for Employers in the Commercial Trucking Industry

As California businesses begin to reopen and return employees to physical workplaces, there are numerous safety measures for employers to consider implementing to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  On May 14, 2020, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) issued its “Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19.”  The new guidelines replace the previous, limited directives by Cal/OSHA, which forced employers to rely heavily on federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed/OSHA”) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for advice instead.  The new guidance identifies specific infection control measures that are mandatory for California employers to implement and include in their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”).  This article breaks down the extensive list of measures and training in the new guidance in an effort to help employers learn how to update their current IIPP and remain in compliance.
Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Issues New COVID-19 General Industry Guidance for All California Employers

As every employer grappling with the global pandemic can attest, preventing and combatting occurrences of COVID-19 are paramount considerations.  This concern has become all the more pronounced, and visible to the nation, with the increasing reports of COVID-19 outbreaks at food processing facilities throughout the country.  In response to this potential threat to the nation’s food supply, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) recently issued joint guidance for meat and poultry processing facilities proposing precautionary measures these employers can take to protect their workers and, in turn, the food supply.
Continue Reading Where’s the Meat? Interim Federal Guidance for Meat Plant Worker Safety

As the number of confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19” or “coronavirus”) in the U.S. continues to rise, employers must prepare for issues that will inevitably arise as the virus spreads.  While the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) currently advises that “most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure,” it is prudent for employers to evaluate their organizations’ current policies and practices in the event a major outbreak occurs.  Some issues to consider include the following:
Continue Reading What Employers Need To Know To Prepare For Coronavirus