On November 12, 2021, the Fifth Court of Appeals stayed the enforcement of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100+ employees to adopt a policy mandating employees to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing starting in January 2022.

The Order found that the OSHA ETS is “fatally flawed” in that it is both “overinclusive,” since it applies to all industries based on size, without any analysis of the specific risks applicable in each industry, and “underinclusive,” since it only applies to employers with 100+ employees, and does not attempt to protect employees who work for small employers.  The Court further found that “the mere specter of the [OSHA] Mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months” and that in enacting this ETS, OSHA had exceeded its powers and violated “the constitutional structure that safeguards our collective liberty.”Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Blocks OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Employers with 100+ Employees – Stay Tuned for More Court Rulings

President Joe Biden announced on September 9, 2021 a new rule requiring employers with at least 100 employees to mandate that their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The president also signed orders indicating that most federal employees and federal contractors, as well as most health care workers across the country, must be vaccinated.  Previously some private employers enacted policies requiring vaccines of their workers, but these decisions were made primarily based on workplace dynamics and culture.  With broader government imposed mandates in the offing, employers are asking more questions than before about how to handle mandating vaccines in a polarized workforce in a tight labor market.
Continue Reading The Challenges of Vaccine Mandates

On Thursday, September 29, 2022, Massachusetts extended the paid sick leave program until April 1, 2022. The reason for taking such leave have also been broadened. Irrespective of the number of full-time employees an employer may have, the paid sick leave mandate requires Massachusetts employers provide another 40 hours of paid time off in order to deal with several COVID-19 related issues.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave Into 2022

In honor of the 31st anniversary of the enactment of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) on July 26, the Biden Administration has announced the release of a package of guidance and resources relating to applicability of disability-related laws and regulations to people with long COVID, sometimes referred to as “COVID Long-Haulers.”
Continue Reading Biden Administration Marks ADA Anniversary by Releasing Long COVID Disability Guidance

Houston Methodist Hospital was sued earlier this year by 117 unvaccinated employees.  The workers claimed that the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy violated public policy because the vaccines at issue were approved by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) rather than through the typical lengthier process.  The workers alleged that they were being forced to serve as human guinea pigs, arguing that the hospital was making them “participate in an experimental vaccine trial  as a condition for continued employment.”
Continue Reading Judge Dismisses Hospital Workers’ Law Suit Over Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

If there is anything we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that the more things stay the same, the more they change.  That’s right.  Most of us have adopted a “wait and see” attitude when it comes to questions like masks on or off, mandating vaccines or strongly suggesting, and how much information can we actually seek from employees.  After all, we haven’t always seen consistent guidance coming from state and federal agencies like CDC, EEOC and OSHA or state and local public health authorities. So we cautiously await new information before making any significant policy changes, especially when workplace and community safety are implicated.
Continue Reading EEOC Updates and Clarifies Vaccine Guidance

Beginning on May 28, 2021 and extending through the end of September, Massachusetts employees will be eligible for up to 40 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave providing paid time off for qualifying reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Enacts Temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law Extending COVID-19 Paid Time Off Through September

Governor Charlie Baker announced on Tuesday, April 27 that as of April 30 masks will no longer be required in outdoor settings. Social distancing, however, must still be maintained.

Effective Monday, May 10, large indoor and outdoor venues will be allowed to increase capacity to 25%. Effective May 29, various other venues such as bars

On April 7th, the United States Department of Labor issued detailed guidance and model notices to assist employers in implementing the COBRA premium assistance requirement under Section 9501 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the ARP).

The ARP requires employers to provide a 100 percent COBRA premium subsidy – between April 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2021 – for employees whose reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment makes them eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during this period. An employer or plan to whom COBRA premiums are payable, advances the COBRA premium and is then entitled to a tax credit for the amount of the premium assistance provided.Continue Reading American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Requires Employers to Pay Employee COBRA Premiums Until September 30, 2021