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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.

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OSHA emergency vaccine mandate withdrawn and forced arbitration may end for workplace sexual harassment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ETS case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit because OSHA is unlikely to pursue merit finding for a withdrawn regulation.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

COMPLIANCE

Are religious exemptions a way out for employees or a tricky challenge for employers?

By Lynne Curry Question: If I’m to believe the stack of religious exemptions on my desk, a miracle unfolded in our company last week. Within days of announcing our mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, 90 percent of our unvaccinated employees found religion. I’m holding a dozen exemption requests that use an identical phrase, “This mandate directly affects my religious beliefs. The Bible tells me my body is a temple.” I suspect the few unvaccinated employees who haven’t yet claimed a religious exemption didn’t see what one of our employees helpfully posted next to the breakroom coffeepot. It says employees can refuse vaccinations because vaccines interfere with divine providence. What can we do? My HR officer and I understand we’re obligated to “reasonably accommodate” sincerely held religious beliefs. Except—if we accommodate these… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

5 things to do when implementing a vaccine passport policy at your law office

Like many other employers, you might have been undecided about whether to mandate that your employees get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, now that the FDA has fully approved a coronavirus vaccine, namely, the Pfizer BioNTech, you are on much stronger legal ground in requiring that employees get vaccinated. One strategy that may work, especially for offices that aren’t administering the vaccine for their own employees, is to implement a vaccine passport, i.e., a policy requiring personnel to present proof of their vaccination status to gain entry to the workplace. What is a vaccine passport? A “vaccine passport” is a commonly accepted means of showing that a person has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Some foreign governments are creating official, uniform cards that individuals must display. (Go to this link for a… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Watch for vaccine mandate and outcome of remote work lawsuit

By Mike O’Brien  Watching for OSHA’s new vaccine mandate rule President Joe Biden has instructed the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop an emergency rule that will require private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees be vaccinated or receive a weekly negative COVID-19 test. Employers who fail to do so will face fines. In addition, regardless of employee headcount, OSHA will require all federal contractors to mandate vaccinations for their employees with no option for employees to receive weekly testing instead. Similarly, OSHA will require all employers in healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement to mandate employee vaccinations, with no weekly testing option. President Biden’s announcement was welcomed by many business leaders but criticized by Republican… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Masks making a comeback and vaccine mandates are on

By Mike O’Brien Masks make a comeback On July 27, 2021, the CDC issued new guidance for people that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Previously, the CDC had said that fully vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in public. However, largely in response to the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC now recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in “an area of substantial or high transmission.” The CDC has provided a “county tracker” tool for determining what areas have “substantial or high transmission.” A large portion of the State of Utah appears to be in the high transmission range. So far, OSHA hasn’t weighed in on the CDC’s updated guidance, but when the CDC has issued mask guidance in the past, OSHA… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

EEOC issues COVID-19 vaccine guidance

By Mike O’Brien bio On Dec. 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance to include a section devoted to vaccinations. The EEOC’s guidance answers these and other COVID-19 vaccine questions: “Is asking or requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination a disability-related inquiry?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a disability?” “If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief?” “What happens if an employer cannot… . . . read more


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