Business owners are facing decisions most never anticipated. Legal directives are not the only factor holding back the economy. Everyone is eager to see workplaces return to normal operations. At the same time, no business wants to put its workers and customers in danger.
Retail businesses and restaurants have been devastated by stay-at-home orders intended to combat the COVID-19 epidemic. As restrictions begin to loosen, businesses have more freedom to open their doors, but in doing so, face the risk of lawsuits brought by employees or customers who allege that they were exposed to COVID-19.
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.
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.