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SAFETY

Workplace active shooter: Run, hide, fight

By Lynne Curry It’s not your imagination. There are more incidents of violence across our country than ever before. It doesn’t matter where you live. Nor that you don’t believe it could happen in your town, your workplace or at your kids’ school. You’ve seen the news reports. The violence in workplaces including offices, schools, restaurants, train stations, malls, and churches. Innocence can’t save you. It might get you killed. Would you know what to do if  someone started shooting? Knowing what to do could keep you alive. Suppose you hear something odd. At first, you think it’s a car backfiring. Then you hear the same sound again and again. Gunshots, repeated in rapid succession. Fear grips you. You hear others screaming. You struggle to catch a breath. You haven’t seen a… . . . read more

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

High at work: Anyone else smell that?

By Paul Edwards More often than you would think, we get calls from managers wondering what they can do about someone whom they think is impaired at work. When that happens, we immediately go into crisis control mode because, well, impairment at work is never acceptable. In this article, we are going to discuss impairment and odors from the perspective of marijuana legalization. From job candidates showing up to interviews smelling like a skunk to employees showing up to their shift distracted with bloodshot eyes, knowing how to handle an employee’s potential marijuana use has only gotten more complicated. Currently, marijuana legalization is in limbo between state versus federal government. While many states have moved to legalize or decriminalize its use, marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Harassment continues in era of remote work

By Mike O’Brien  In the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that workplace harassment would decrease when so many workers shifted to remote work. Some recent surveys indicate that hasn’t been the case, and that incidents of harassment have been increasing. Possible reasons for this spike include the stress of the pandemic, the fact that remote workers may lack the kind of personal connections with colleagues that might otherwise hinder poor behavior and a more casual approach to conversations due to working in a more relaxed environment. Zoom meetings have also provided a whole new forum for trouble, with employees behaving badly (sometimes while thinking they are off-camera). The quick and unexpected shift to remote workforces may also have left many employers unprepared for the challenge. To combat… . . . read more

EMPLOYER ALERT

Find the CDC’s new (relaxed) masking recommendations for your county

You can find the new COVID-19 masking recommendations your area on a map just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Recognizing that a substantial portion of the population has been vaccinated or has acquired some level of natural immunity, the agency has turned its focus to “protecting those at highest risk of severe outcomes” and minimizing the strain on healthcare systems. So on Feb. 25  the CDC released a color-coded map of all U.S. counties, with green indicating low levels of transmission, yellow indicating medium levels, and orange indicating high levels. A link to the map and related recommendations is here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html CDC advises that masks are no longer necessary in green counties (those with low levels of transmission). In yellow counties (medium transmission), CDC recommends that those… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW

Where we are on vaccines and masks in the workplace

Vaccine roundup The Biden Administration, through Executive Orders and various agencies, has adopted four separate vaccine mandates for (1) employers with 100+ employees (the OSHA ETS), (2) federal contractors, (3) federal employees and onsite contractors, and (4) healthcare employers who receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements (the CMS mandate).  Except for the CMS mandate, all these various vaccination mandates have either been rejected or stayed by the courts. On Jan. 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the CMS mandate. OSHA mask guidance On Aug. 23, 2021, OSHA updated its workplace safety guidelines to recommend that employers require all employees–regardless of vaccination status–to wear masks when indoors and not physically distanced.  That guidance has not changed since it was added in August 2021.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

4 ways to prioritize staff mental health

Mental distress has long been a hidden issue in the workplace. Employees are often unaware of the resources—if any—available to help them, while employers may be unaware of the effects mental distress has on safety and their bottom lines. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought this issue to the forefront for many employers. Over 40% of Americans report experiencing increases in mental distress due to the pandemic, and over 85% say that work impacts their mental health. Employers are now recognizing the effects of employee mental distress, including increased absenteeism, negative impacts on productivity and profits, and an increase in healthcare costs. Encouragingly, organizations see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment in improved health and productivity. Supporting treatment alone, however, is not enough. Employers… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

OSHA emergency vaccine mandate withdrawn and forced arbitration may end for workplace sexual harassment

By Mike O’Brien After a recent United States Supreme Court decision prohibited it, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially announced the withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), effective Jan. 26, 2022. According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “OSHA’s withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccination and testing ETS, which required employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers were vaccinated against COVID-19 or underwent weekly testing, nullifies employers’ obligations under the standard. The withdrawal would also discontinue the OSHA ETS case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit because OSHA is unlikely to pursue merit finding for a withdrawn regulation. However, employers must continue to comply with state or local government vaccination and/or testing requirements, which are not… . . . read more

Hang in there: Most employers say they can endure omicron

A survey of business leaders shows that most shows that most —87 percent—believe their organization would be able to endure an outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Eighty-six percent of executives polled by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) in December agreed that existing policies and procedures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace gave them confidence as omicron began spreading in the U.S. At the same time, many executives are worried about impacts to their business, with 67 percent saying they were very or extremely concerned about their organization’s ability to keep employees and clients safe due to omicron. “Clearly, this variant is causing significant disruptions across the economy, and business leaders must continue taking steps to protect employees and their families and retain… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

A manager tries to hold it all together during Omnicron surge

By Lynne Curry “I’m overwhelmed,” the manager said when he called. “Senior management pressures us to maintain high levels of productivity, but nearly a fourth of our employees call in sick every morning. On our last all-manager Zoom call, our CEO said our productivity is down and made it clear we’re expected to handle our employees’ anxiety and get them refocused on their work.” “What about my stress? Every time an employee pokes his head in my door, I know I’ll hear a complaint or get handed a resignation. Omicron sent us all into a tailspin. I supervise employees who fear they risk infection every day they come to work. And I’m supposed to convince them to work harder? Do you have a magic bullet?” Supervisors in the vise You’re… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

By Mike O’Brien In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The majority ruled on Jan. 13 that OSHA had exceeded its authority when it issued the vaccine mandate, concluding that OSHA has authority only “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” The court found that COVID presents a “universal risk” not limited to the workplace that is “no different from day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Note: This decision addresses only the stay decisions… . . . read more


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