This week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Emergency Executive Order 20-54 (“EO 20-54”), addressing the need for employers to protect all workers, regardless of immigration status, from unsafe work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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After sheltering-in-place, remote working, and business closures, employers across the country have started planning to bring employees back to work. The first item of business is how to ensure the workplace is safe for employees and the general public. For this, many employers are turning to employee health checks.
Home-bound employees must use their home internet to perform work, but is it reimbursable?
With the unprecedented steps being taken to slow down the spread of COVID-19, it is important that those companies whose products effectively kill or contain the spread of Coronavirus be able to market their products’ efficacy to consumers. It is equally important that unscrupulous companies not be allowed to capitalize on the current crisis by misleading desperate consumers into believing that their products are more effective at killing or containing the spread of the Coronavirus than they actually are.
Prior to reopening, everyone involved in the business of youth sports, clubs, camps, and daycares should concentrate on these two areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related "stay-at-home" orders have required changes to employers' everyday practices, impacting nearly all aspects of operations. Employers have worked hard to meet the demand for rapid flexibility in the interest of continuing operations and keeping their workforce safe and intact. For good reason, many of these policies (such as temporary remote work policies) may have been implemented outside of the traditional planning processes that employers use when rolling out new policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that associations and its members are engaging. With the stay at home orders in place across the country, in-person meetings have been replaced with video or teleconferences, and a lot more communication is being done in writing.
The threat to these industries is nothing short of existential, says Special Counsel John Levy in a presentation that he gave with Club E Digital on April 30, 2020.
A significant concern for employers is potential liability to employees who contract COVID-19 at work – either employees in essential businesses who continued to work or employees who may be called back to work after restrictions are eased.
The Federal Reserve Board clarified nonprofits are ineligible for the Main Street Lending Program, but also noted they are evaluating a separate approach specific to nonprofits.
In this unprecedented business environment, many employers have been forced to take swift action to stay afloat during the pandemic. Two common actions have been furloughs and layoffs. But each raises legal risks under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”) and related state laws.
Impact Analysis for Higher Education: Weighing Risks Posed by Demands for Tuition and Housing Refunds
“Stay-at-home” orders in response to COVID-19 have shifted learning from college classrooms to online platforms and emptied residence and dining halls. Campus administrators are responding to demands from parents and students to refund tuition, housing and meal plan costs, and student fees. Most institutions have adopted policies to reimburse prorated fees and expenses, but are not offering tuition refunds. For many families, this is not enough, and several have filed class-action lawsuits against the schools, with more likely to come.
Returning to Work: Minnesota allows more businesses to resume in-person operations starting April 27
On April 23, Governor Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-40, which expands the number of businesses permitted to operate in-person during Minnesota’s “stay-at-home” order. Under the Order, individuals working in certain types of businesses are permitted to return to work starting next week, Monday, April 27, provided other conditions are met.
Ensuring that hourly employees accurately record their work time—and that employees are paid for all work time—can be a challenge even under the best of circumstances. But it’s crucial to avoid or defend costly class litigation or audits from the Department of Labor. These “off the clock” issues may be exacerbated for employers who now have hourly employees working remotely during the pandemic. Remote work means employers have less oversight and ability to enforce timekeeping rules. This is made even more complicated because employees may be working—and responding to work requests—during odd hours as they navigate other home obligations.
Last week, the EEOC issued additional COVID-19 related guidance designed to aid employers as they begin to welcome employees back to work, including disability accommodation requests under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and anti-harassment issues. The EEOC’s expanded guidance is summarized below.
Unlike the majority of states, Minnesota has no anti-price gouging statute on its books. Minnesota has sought to ban price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic through an executive order issued by Governor Walz on March 20, 2020. Since that time, the Minnesota Attorney General has received hundreds of complaints of alleged price gouging and pursued enforcement action against many businesses. The potential also exists that private litigants could seek to bring lawsuits against businesses for alleged price gouging activity.
Some of the COVD-19 pandemic emergency loan programs limit eligibility to businesses and to nonprofits based on their size or other qualifications. Businesses or nonprofits with more than 500 employees are often left wondering what loans they can apply for, and which loans would be the best for their organizations and their needs.
ERISA lawsuits typically grow in numbers whenever there is an economic downturn. Though COVID-19’s financial impact is still unfolding, employer-sponsored employee-stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and the employers themselves are likely to once again face a heightened risk of litigation. In particular, we anticipate a rise in so-called “stock-drop” lawsuits involving ESOPs.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide Executive Order requiring large employers to provide up to 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) for food sector workers and to permit extra handwashing breaks, effective immediately (April 16, 2020).
The Importance of Social Media In Communicating Changes and Delays To Recall Remedies and Information
In response to the global pandemic and disruptions to supply chains, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has alerted consumers for the past few weeks that recall remedies might be unavailable or otherwise delayed.
On April 9, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance to help employers manage workplace issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic without running afoul of federal non-discrimination laws. The EEOC’s updated guidance focuses primarily on employers’ obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We discuss the highlights.
During the week of April 6, 2020, several cities expanded paid sick leave entitlements during the COVID-19 crisis. We outline a few of these here.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, here's how nonprofits should be approaching board and member meetings.
CDC Issues New Guidance on Safety Measures for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Potential Exposure to COVID-19
On April 8, 2020, the CDC issued new guidance advising critical infrastructure workers (essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions that communities depend on daily) to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and certain precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) creates, for the first time, a federal requirement to issue paid sick leave and paid FMLA benefits for most private employers with fewer than 500 employees. To help offset the cost, the legislation permits employers to claim tax credits on qualifying paid leave wages, certain health plan expenses, and the employer's share of Medicare taxes.
Employers: How to Handle the New Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Law That Extends Greater Protection to Front-Line Employees
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a workers’ compensation bill on April 7, 2020, to help first responders, healthcare workers and daycare workers who contract COVID-19 in the workplace. Here's what employers need to know about handling these claims.
Since shelter-in-place and self-isolation orders have become the norm around the country, more employers are utilizing video interview tools in lieu of interviewing candidates in person. These tools allow HR and hiring teams to continue to assess talent with little interruption. But Nilan Johnson Lewis labor and employment attorney Mark Girouard urges companies to keep certain legal requirements in mind before turning on the cameras.
The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on April 2, 2020, released an Interim Final Rule regarding how the agency will implement the “Paycheck Protection Program” of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act also expands the SBA’s long-standing Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). We address some Frequently Asked Questions as to why nonprofits, foundations, and small businesses should be paying attention to these CARES Act loan programs.
On April 2, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a HIPAA enforcement update regarding disclosures made by Business Associates (BA) during COVID-19.
How Manufacturers and Retailers Can Protect Themselves from Product Liability Exposure During COVID-19
The pandemic has forced many product manufacturers and retailers into unchartered territory. As COVID-19 progresses throughout the United States, it is affecting everything from the workforce, to supply chains, to even the availability of recall remedies. During these times of rapid change, it may be difficult for companies to remain diligent on product safety issues. However, product manufacturers and retailers can take a few steps to ensure they are protecting themselves not only now, but in the long-term, from product liability lawsuits or fines from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
On April 1, 2020, the Department of Labor issued a temporary rule interpreting the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) found in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The unpublished rule includes over 80 pages of discussion followed by specific guidance on key aspects of the FFCRA’s paid leave requirements, including the scope of exemptions for small employers, calculations of leave benefits for part-time employees, and notice and certification requirements. For the most part, the regulations mirror the FAQs recently released by the DOL.
As life has been upended by COVID-19, we are quickly adapting to an intensified “on-line” world. Among other uncertainties, we have been thrown into a swirl of technological challenges surrounding the practice of law.
The President declared a national emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic triggering Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, disaster assistance/relief payments are not taxable to the recipients if they meet certain requirements.
The Department of Labor has started issuing interpretive guidance on the FFCRA, which provides for paid sick and FMLA leave for certain employees.
In response to COVID-19, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services on a temporary and emergency basis for the duration of the Public Health Emergency.
As the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses are facing nearly unprecedented risk that their commercial customers, who may have been transformed from financially strong to seriously distressed in a matter of days, will be unable to continue paying for goods and services.
In response to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Emergency Executive Order 20-20 on March 25, 2020. The Governor’s order directs Minnesotans to remain at home, work remotely if possible, and limit their outside activities to those that are essential. The order also contains exemptions for businesses that are part of certain “critical sectors,” as defined in the order. Executive Order 20-20 takes effect on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect for two weeks, until Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., unless extended.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all corners of life both locally and nationally, we have received questions from our nonprofit clients regarding the use of their endowment funds to help support their targeted communities. In addition to a quick review of Minnesota’s endowment fund law, we provide some action items to consider when faced with these spending decisions.
On March 18, 2020, the New York State Assembly passed and Governor Cuomo signed into law a response to the novel coronavirus that provides certain employees sick leave and job protection in the event they are subject to quarantine or isolation due to an order by a public health official. The new law also expands protections to certain employees under the New York Paid Family Leave and the New York disability benefits law to provide some measure of salary continuation during a quarantine or isolation order period.
On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The new law requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid FMLA and paid sick leave related to the current pandemic. We address some of the major requirements of the new law.
Update March 19: via emergency order, California modified notification requirements under the state’s mini-WARN Act retroactive to March 4, 2020, and extending through the duration of the emergency
In the last few days, Minnesota has closed schools, restaurants, theaters, fitness centers, and other gathering places (Emergency Executive Orders 20-02 and 20-04). Minnesota has also started to provide much-needed relief to Minnesota employers and employees facing the immediate loss of work because of COVID-19 (Emergency Executive Order 20-05), including making unemployment benefits immediately accessible rather than requiring a one-week waiting period for out-of-work individuals. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions we have received since these orders were issued.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not sanction or issue penalties against hospitals failing to comply with certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
With Emergency Executive Order 20-05, Minnesota Governor Walz provided much-needed relief to Minnesota employers and employees facing immediate loss of work because of COVID-19. The March 16th Order waives the one-week waiting period before individuals can be considered eligible for unemployment and relaxes otherwise strict requirements to maximize the chances that unemployed and underemployed workers receive benefits quickly
[UPDATED MARCH 18] Employers Ask: Can We Check All Employees for a Fever Before They Walk in the Door?
As businesses navigate the unprecedented waters surrounding COVID-19, some are considering using thermometers to screen employees and keep the workplace safe. But does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allow employers to check employees for a fever at the door? Right now, the answer is “yes.”
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has created significant workplace concerns for U.S. employers. Companies are balancing the need to continue their operations against the desire to keep their employees safe. The Frequently Asked Questions below, and those answered by Courtney Blanchard on this news broadcast, address some of the more difficult employment law-related issues that have arisen as employers confront the coronavirus threat.
The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the “coronavirus”) are unfolding each day. Currently, there is no evidence of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the U.S. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that most American workers are at a low risk of contracting coronavirus absent sustained human-to-human transmission with infected travelers from abroad or other close contact with infected persons. Nonetheless, as individuals take steps to prepare for a potential outbreak, employers must also prepare for the possibility of a workforce impacted by an outbreak of COVID-19. There are several legal issues to consider.