On June 10, 2021, fifteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued its first ‘emergency temporary standard’ (“ETS”) governing the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers.

The ETS broadly requires healthcare employers to conduct an internal safety assessment and develop a safety plan, which must be in writing for all employers with more than 10 employees. The ETS further delineates requirements relating to patient screening and management, health precautions, masks and PPE,  aerosol-generating procedures, physical distancing, physical barriers, cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, health screening, vaccination, employee training, anti-retaliation, record-keeping, reporting occurrences of COVID-19 transmission, and paying employees for periods of quarantine. Consistent with recent CDC guidance, the ETS also contains carve outs on employee mask-wearing requirements where employees are all vaccinated or where employees are given reasonable accommodations exempting them from mask-wearing and/or vaccination requirements.
Continue Reading OSHA’s New Safety Rule: Health Care Workers and Beyond

On March 22, 2021, Marty Walsh, the two-term Boston mayor, was confirmed as the Labor Secretary by the United States Senate in a 68-29 vote.  He becomes the first union leader to run the Department of Labor in over four decades. Workplace safety will be one area that we can expect to undergo significant change under Walsh. 
Continue Reading DOL and OSHA: Agency Updates

With little forewarning to the regulated community, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health passed a sweeping new standard requiring employers in the state to implement prescribed COVID-19 protections. Now, employers’ groups are fighting back.
Continue Reading Employers’ Groups Bring Fight Against Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS to Court

On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its COVID-19 guidance with a new section pertaining to vaccinations. The updated release—“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws”—discusses how employers who require vaccinations should respond to an employee who is unable or unwilling to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief. 
Continue Reading EEOC Provides Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted on November 19 to implement a stringent new standard for employers to follow when implementing COVID-19 protections in the state.  The state’s rulemaking agency for workplace safety voted unanimously to pass the “Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations,” which is expected to go into effect within 10 days (assuming the State’s Office of Administrative Law adopts Cal/OSHA’s regulation).
Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Votes to Implement Strict COVID-19 Workplace Protections for California Workers

Three bills currently pending in the California legislature aim to codify presumptions for workers compensation purposes about the work-relatedness of COVID-19. Governor Newsom first addressed this issue in his May 6, 2020 Executive Order No. N-62-20, which expired on July 5, 2020.
Continue Reading California Legislature Tackles COVID Workers Compensation Presumptions

Virginia became the first state in the country to pass a workplace safety standard specific to COVID-19 on July 15.  It includes hazard assessment, communication and training requirements, depending on the types of tasks employees perform at work.
Continue Reading Virginia Passes First-in-the-Nation COVID-19 Safety Standard – What it Means for Your Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed employers to an influx of novel employment law issues.  Many employers already have experienced an uptick in related internal complaints or litigation. We identify five particular employment law liabilities employers may be exposed to once the dust settles from the pandemic.
Continue Reading Top Five Employment Law Liabilities Facing Employers Post-Pandemic