Labor & Employment Law Blog

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On March 31, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (the “MRTA”) into law, making New York the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana.  The MRTA allows adults aged 21 and older to possess, purchase, display, obtain, and transport marijuana in limited quantities.  The MRTA takes effect immediately, although the sale of recreational-use marijuana is not expected to become legal for at least another year.  The legalization of marijuana will have significant effects on many aspects of society in New York, including in the workplace.…
As travel begins to resume in California, the Legislature has imposed additional stringent requirements on employers in the travel and hospitality industries.  Beginning April 16, 2021, Senate Bill 93 will require employers in these industries to offer job positions back to their laid-off employees as they become available (within five business days).  The bill creates California Labor Code Section 2810.8 which will not expire until December 31, 2024.  The new section requires covered employers to recall laid-off employees, in order of seniority, for all positions for which they are qualified.  Employers must make job offers in writing, either by hand…
On April 23, 2021, the New York state legislature delivered a copy of the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act” or the “Act”) to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature.  The legislation was created as a response to COVID-19 safety concerns as New Yorkers return to in-person work, and designed to fill gaps created by expiring COVID-19-related executive orders.  If enacted, the HERO Act would require the New York Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) to issue enforceable minimum workplace health and safety standards, and would also impose significant new health and safety obligations on employers in the state.  Because Governor…
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued key guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) about COBRA Premium Assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”).  In addition to issuing the FAQs, the DOL issued model notices and announced a new website dedicated to the COBRA premium subsidy under ARPA, which can be found at the following link: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy.…
In a prior article, we explained Senate Bill 95, which requires employers with more than 25 employees in California to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick leave.  You can read it here.  SB 95 creates California Labor Code Sections 248.2 and 248.3.  It goes into effect on March 29, 2021, and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021.  This new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law allows covered employees to take up to an additional 80 hours of paid COVID-19 related sick leave.…
Beginning on March 29, 2021, Senate Bill 95 will place additional requirements on employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.  The bill, which was approved by the legislature on March 18, 2021, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19, 2021, creates California Labor Code Sections 248.2 and 248.3.  SB 95 dramatically expands the number of employees eligible for COVID-19 paid sick leave, expands the reasons an employee may take paid sick leave, and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, which will require some employers who previously granted employees unpaid leave for COVID-19 related…
On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) launched its new COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (“NEP”).  The new OSHA directive outlines policies and procedures for minimizing worker exposures to COVID-19 by targeting certain “high-hazard” industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close contact exposures.  The NEP and related updates to OSHA’s Interim Enforcement Response Plan (“IERP”) are in response to President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order, which also gave OSHA until March 15 to determine whether a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) is necessary.  Although March 15 has come and gone,…
On Monday, March 8, 2021, the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) issued new Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People.  The CDC defines “fully vaccinated people” as those who received both doses in a 2-dose series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine, and two weeks have elapsed since receiving the final dose.  Alongside its recommendations as detailed below, the CDC released a Background Rationale which provides a scientific analysis in support of its recommendations.…
On March 4, 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) updated its COVID-19 related guidance.  In addition to addressing whether an employer may ask about symptoms, take employees’ temperatures, and require the use of personal protective equipment among other things, the DFEH addresses a question that has been top of mind for many California employers:…
The end of 2020 was not the end of the California Legislature’s focus on employment-related legislation.  Just two months into the new year, the Legislature has already introduced several bills addressing the workplace that could impact employers who still may be implementing coronavirus-related legislation.  This article discusses two such bills on the horizon that employers will want to follow as they work their way through the Legislature.…
Pursuant to Government Code Section 12999, employers of 100 or more employees, and at least one California employee, must report pay and hours worked data by establishment, job category, pay band, sex, race, and ethnicity to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  The deadline to do so is March 31, 2021 and annually on every March 31 thereafter.  In enacting this legislation, the Legislature noted that hidden bias exists and is encouraging self-assessment of pay disparities along gendered, racial, and ethnic lines to encourage voluntary compliance with equal pay and anti-discrimination laws.…
The Ninth Circuit and the California legislature recently updated employer leave requirements, impacting California employers.  The Ninth Circuit recently handed down two decisions regarding leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), including a decision concerning what constitutes a “workweek” for FMLA purposes.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2021, smaller employers in California will have to grant 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).  Employers should consider these changes as they update their leave policies, especially as employees may take more extended leaves during the COVID-19 pandemic.…
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)—the agency tasked with enforcing federal labor laws—was deputized by Congress in 1972 with authority to bring lawsuits against employers for violating anti-discrimination laws and retaliating against employees.  Since then, the agency has made a concerted and aggressive effort to challenge, among other things, standard clauses in separation agreements that have the potential to chill former employees’ participation in legal actions against their former employers, including non-cooperation and covenant not to sue clauses.  This concern is especially salient in the age of COVID-19, where many employers are using separation agreements at a breakneck pace due…
Substantial changes are afoot at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Most notably, these include the firing of the NLRB’s General Counsel Peter Robb and the rescission of ten of Robb’s General Counsel Memoranda. The New Acting General Counsel further ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against UNITE HERE challenging a pre-recognition neutrality agreement. This latter decision is at odds with guidance provided by the NLRB over the last several months and is certainly indicative of a transformation taking place at the agency under the Biden administration. These changes are discussed in detail below.…
On January 20, 2021 – nearly a year after the law’s effective date – the New York Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) issued new guidance (the “Guidance”) for employers regarding the scope of available sick leave for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 (“Quarantine Leave”).  The Guidance creates new obligations for employers in New York and clarifies certain limitations on Quarantine Leave.  It is also intended to supplement other guidance previously issued by the NYDOL, which remains in effect.…