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New York Significantly Expands its Whistleblower Law

November 19, 2021 | Blog | By Evan Piercey, Michael Arnold

New York has greatly expanded its “whistleblower” law. The amendments to New York Labor Law §740 go into effect on January 26, 2022 and undoubtedly enhance employee protections and require New York employers to take certain steps to come into compliance. We discuss in greater detail below.
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A Comprehensive Breakdown of OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rule

November 19, 2021 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Jennifer Rubin, David Barmak, Corbin Carter, Evan Piercey, Danielle Bereznay, Danielle Dillon, Nicole Rivers, Paul Huston

Read Mintz’s comprehensive analysis of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard pertaining to workplace COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for employers with 100 or more employees.
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A three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has now permanently blocked OSHA from implementing and enforcing its vaccine rule, which impacts employers nationwide. This is not the end of the judicial review road for the vaccine rule. Challenges to the rule were filed in multiple federal circuit courts across the country. Regardless of the outcome, the Supreme Court will likely have the final word.
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A recently proposed Department of Labor regulation entitled “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights” (the “Proposal”) addresses the duties of retirement plan fiduciaries when considering economically targeted investments – i.e., investments that take into account environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors. Issued in response to a May 20, 2021 Executive Order, the Proposal would significantly modify prior, Trump-era rules on the subject. This post examines the Proposal from the retirement committee perspective.
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OSHA Vaccine Rule Temporarily Blocked By Federal Appeals Court

November 7, 2021 | Blog | By Delaney Busch

A Federal appeals court has temporarily blocked OSHA’s vaccine rule. Citing to potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues” with the rule, the 5th Circuit promised an expedited judicial review of whether to block it permanently. We expect that even after the 5th Circuit rules, the Supreme Court will be asked to weigh in. We also, of course, will be closely monitoring this legal development, which impacts employers nationwide. Although the future of the OSHA vaccine rule is unknown at this time, employers should continue to take steps to come into compliance given the short compliance window provided by OSHA if the rule is upheld.
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NYSDOL Issues Guidance Regarding Employee Use of Cannabis

November 3, 2021 | Blog | By Evan Piercey, Corbin Carter, Michael Arnold

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has published guidance regarding employee cannabis use. 
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EEOC Updates Religious Accommodation and Vaccine Mandate Guidance

October 28, 2021 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Danielle Bereznay, Corbin Carter

The EEOC has updated its technical guidance and answers to add six religious accommodation-based questions and answers in a new Section L (Vaccinations – Title VII and Religious Objections to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates).  The updated guidance does not necessarily break new ground in this area; instead, it mostly reinforces several preexisting concepts, including (i) how employers should analyze the religious nature and sincerity of an employee’s belief; (ii) what might constitute “undue hardship”; and (iii) the need for employers to analyze each accommodation request on a case-by-case basis.  We break down the updated guidance further below. 
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Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave—Updates from the Department

October 21, 2021 | Blog | By Danielle Dillon, Natalie C. Groot, Patricia Moran

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”) has issued a number of changes relating to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (“MAPFML”) since their last quarterly briefing. 
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The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (the “Departments”) recently issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions—FAQs About Affordable Act Implementation, Part 50, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Implementation—confirming that employers may utilize group health plan coverage surcharges in compliance with the ACA and HIPAA, although Title VI, ADA, and GINA compliance-based questions remain
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NY Hero Act Update: Activated Plans Must Remain in Place until October 31, 2021

October 5, 2021 | Blog | By Evan Piercey, Corbin Carter

The New York State Department of Health Commissioner has extended the designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health in New York State” until October 31, 2021.
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Breaking Down the New COVID-19 Safety Protocol Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

October 1, 2021 | Blog | By Tyrone Thomas, Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

The Biden Administration, via its Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (the “Task Force”), has now provided the guidance with which federal contractor and subcontractors must comply in connection with their contracts and contract-like instruments with the Federal government.
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NY HERO Act Plans ACTIVATED – Employer Action Required

September 27, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Michael Arnold

The New York State Commissioner of Health has designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” This means that the HERO Act’s many requirements are no longer theoretical: Almost all private New York employers must now activate their HERO Act-compliant workplace exposure prevention plans and take numerous implementation steps required by the recently enacted law. Per the Commissioner’s designation notice, the “activation” designation will remain in effect until at least September 30, 2021, at which point the Commissioner will review the level of transmission of COVID-19 in New York State and determine whether to continue this designation.
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In a previous post, we reported on an announcement by Delta Airlines that it would impose a premium surcharge on employees covered under its group health plan who failed to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
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In 2019, the California legislature passed AB 51, a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees to agree to arbitration as a condition of employment. Before the law went into effect, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—a coalition of employers—challenged the law in federal court, arguing that it violated the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”).
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Imposing Group Health Plan Monthly Surcharges on the Unvaccinated

September 15, 2021 | Blog | By Alden Bianchi, Michael Arnold, Danielle Bereznay

Calling it “a more-punitive approach toward getting its workforce vaccinated against Covid-19,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Delta Airlines will require its unvaccinated workers to pay a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge.
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Webinar Recording - Delta's Impact on Return to Office Plans

September 14, 2021 | Blog | By David Barmak, Natalie C. Groot, Andrew Matzkin, Nicole Rivers

As new developments occur with the Delta variant, employers must adapt their return to office (RTO) plans to comply with fluctuating CDC guidance, state and local requirements, and employee expectations.
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Biden Administration Unveils Sweeping Workplace Vaccination Plan

September 10, 2021 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter, David Barmak

The Biden Administration yesterday unveiled its Path out of the Pandemic – a six-pronged plan designed to further combat COVID-19.
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How to Handle Religious Objections to a Workplace Vaccine Mandate

September 2, 2021 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin

Employers implementing mandatory Covid-19 vaccination programs must manage, and in some cases accommodate, exemption requests. Legal exemptions from mandatory vaccination include medical exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act and exemptions based on sincerely held religious beliefs pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and equivalent state laws for both federal statutes).
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Masks Off, Masks On - Now What?

July 28, 2021 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin

CDC’s updated guidance suggesting facial coverings be worn in “public indoor settings” adds a new but hopefully surmountable barrier to returning the workforce to the office (though undefined, we presume this means any indoor location where two or more individuals are working). At the outset, the CDC guidance does not create a Federal workplace mandate but rather provides a baseline for the creation of safety standards grounded in scientific data – data we recognize is not static given the nature of the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest guidance has frustrated some employers who are attempting to develop sensible policies to return their workforce to offices. We offer some practical guidance regarding the changes, if any, employers might consider in response to the latest CDC guidance.
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NYCCHR Releases Updated Fair Chance Act Guidance Ahead of Important Changes

July 27, 2021 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

The NYC Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) has released updated enforcement guidance regarding the Fair Chance Act. New York City amended the Fair Chance Act last year and those changes will go into effect on July 29, 2021.
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