Category Archives: Employee Handbooks & Policies

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Considering Incentives for Employee COVID-19 Vaccines – Tips and Traps

Despite this week’s well-publicized hiccups with concerns having been raised about the safety of certain COVID-19 vaccines, our country’s march toward widespread community vaccination continues. American employers are eying society’s increasing vaccination rates with interest and optimism, as a critical component of their safe and secure workplace strategies and physical return-to-work operational plans.

Certain large employers are going so far … Continue Reading

Facing Exposure: Dealing with Mask Refusers in the Workplace

As various states (Texas, Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, and many more) have done away with mask mandates and as vaccinations become more widely disseminated amongst the general population, many individuals may be emboldened to throw their face coverings in the trash and never look back. However, employers may be hesitant to lift mask requirements and other COVID-19 protocol in their workplaces … Continue Reading

Do the Business Liability Shield Laws Give Employers Immunity From COVID-19 Lawsuits

Not really. Like the COVID-19 vaccines, these “business liability shields” may provide a layer of protection for some employers, but they in no way guarantee immunity from lawsuits. Since early last year, business leaders expressed concerns about continuing with operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic—mainly because they feared exposing their businesses to lawsuits arising from the transmission of the virus. Indeed, … Continue Reading

What Employers Should Do Based on the Revisions to the EEOC’s Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination

Employers have new obligations and employees have new rights under the EEOC’s newly finalized revisions to the agency’s Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination. The Compliance Manual does not have the force of law, but sets forth how the EEOC analyzes claims under the law, and provides useful guidance to employers. Although a large portion of the Religious Discrimination Section … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Heralds New Protections for LGBTQ Employees

While President Biden’s initial flurry of executive orders largely sought to address the pandemic and undo the regulatory legacy of his predecessor, one order places LGBTQ protection at the heart of the new Administration’s agenda. That order, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” states the new Administration’s general policy: “Every person … Continue Reading

Employers May Compel COVID-19 Vaccinations, But…

Employers may require employees in the workplace to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to newly issued guidelines from the EEOC. But employers may not necessarily terminate an employee who refuses.

While the vaccine may still be months away for most Americans, employers should prepare now for the issues that will arise, including those relating to pre-vaccination screening, administering the vaccine, … Continue Reading

Five New States Approve Marijuana Use, Leaving Employers Dazed and Confused

Voters around the country recently approved a number of ballot initiatives legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes, further complicating the patchwork of existing marijuana laws found throughout the country. The confusion is compounded by the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby making it illegal (at … Continue Reading

Just in Time for the Holidays, the EEOC Proposes Guidance on Religious Bias

It seems that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is getting into the holiday spirit and addressing religious bias for the first time in twelve years. Last week, the EEOC proposed updated religious discrimination guidance for public comment. This guidance (clocking in at well over 100 pages) is in line with the agency’s goal to revamp its stance on religious … Continue Reading

California’s Sweeping Expansion of Employment Laws

California has enacted a host of new laws impacting family and medical leave, coronavirus reporting obligations, workers compensation, pay gap data, worker classifications, and more. Here are the highlights, including when employers must abide by the new laws.… Continue Reading

Traps for the Unwary: Responding When An Employee Quits

You may have been there: a valuable employee angered by some new development, announces “I quit!” and storms out, then shows up for work the next day as though nothing happened. Or a rapidly failing underperformer submits a written resignation, but it’s not effective until 60 days later. What’s an employer to do? Can/should an employer march them out the … Continue Reading

Background Checks and the Fair Credit Reporting Act: Keep It Simple!

Employers who conduct background checks, beware! It might be time to revisit your standard documents and screening processes to ensure they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The number of lawsuits brought under the FCRA has more than doubled since 2009. FRCA litigation was the highest on record at the close of 2019, and continues to rise. Many … Continue Reading

The NLRB’s Division of Advice Has Spoken on COVID-19 in the Workplace, Providing Flexibility to Employers During the Pandemic

As employers continue to navigate these chaotic times, on July 15, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), through its Division of Advice (Advice), issued its first guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the workplace. In the form of five letters from Advice relating to the pandemic, the previously silent NLRB brought some beneficial clarity to employers who have no doubt … Continue Reading

Time to Update (or Implement!) Your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Do you have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place? If not, you had best get started.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recommended having such a plan since the beginning of the pandemic, and have recently updated their guidance to spell out exactly what such plans should address. In some … Continue Reading

Employers Take Heed: CDC Modifies Return to Work Guidance

Over the past few weeks, the CDC has issued updated COVID-19 guidance on a number of topics affecting the workplace, including modifying the criteria employers rely on to determine when an employee with COVID-19 may return to work. As the CDC’s COVID-19 guidance evolves, employers must ensure their COVID-19 plans and policies likewise evolve. Given these recent changes, employers should … Continue Reading

The Black Lives Matter Movement and the Workplace

The Black Lives Matter movement, protesting racism, police brutality, and the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, has not only been seen and heard in streets around the world; it has found a new voice in corporate boardrooms as well. The 8-minute, 46-second video of a police officer indifferently kneeling on the neck of Floyd, an unarmed Black … Continue Reading

It’s Official: Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation/Transgender Status is Prohibited

Employers should take note that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status now clearly violates federal law. In a landmark decision issued on June 15th, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court held (6-3) that an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of … Continue Reading

Re-Opening For Business: Is Your Workplace Ready?

Employers face a myriad of issues in thinking through whether and how to re-open for business after mandatory closures, or how to thoughtfully phase out teleworking models currently in place for ongoing enterprises. While federal, state, and local authorities haggle over who will decide which businesses can re-open and under what circumstances, employers should start preparing now. In particular for … Continue Reading

What Employers Need to Know about Coronavirus

Although there have only been a handful of confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or the “coronavirus”) within the United States so far, employers are nevertheless well-advised to take affirmative steps to protect their employees from this rapidly spreading respiratory illness – even if the employers do not have any operations or employees based in China, where the … Continue Reading

Federal Contractors To Be Limited On Criminal Background Checks

Private employers with federal contracts will soon be prohibited from requesting criminal history information from candidates at the onset of the hiring process; instead, they will have to wait until after an offer is made.

The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (Act) was discreetly tucked into the Defense Spending Bill approved on December 20, 2019. The … Continue Reading

Expanding Rights for Breastfeeding Mothers

On the heels of a new federal law requiring certain public federal buildings to provide lactation spaces, California has enacted one of the most expansive sets of protections for breastfeeding employees in the country. The California law which became effective January 1, 2020, includes provisions regarding break time, policy requirements, and specifications regarding the lactation room.… Continue Reading

Three More Employer Holiday Wishes Granted By National Labor Relations Board

The holiday cheer keeps coming from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the release of three new decisions favoring employers: (1) workplace policies covering confidentiality during workplace investigations are lawful; (2) employers can restrict employees’ use of emails for nonbusiness purposes; and (3) employers can stop deducting and remitting union dues after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.… Continue Reading

NLRB Clarifies Standard for Reviewing Workplace Policies, Finds Confidentiality and Media Contact Policies Lawful

Applying its new standard for determining whether employer policies violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a divided National Labor Relations Board (Board) upheld policies prohibiting employee disclosure of client and vendor information and contact with the media. The Board’s decision provides additional guidance about their new, employer-friendly standard of review.

Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees employees the right … Continue Reading

Halloween Parties Can Leave Employers “Haunted” By Discrimination

The last week of October can result in “double, double toil, and trouble” for employers. While workplace Halloween festivities may boost employee morale, they can also result in employer liability for discrimination and harassment in the workplace in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applicable state and local laws. To protect against this potential … Continue Reading

Minimizing Risks of BYOD Use For Work

Employees seem permanently attached to their smart phones today, but allowing employees to use their personal devices to make work calls, and send and receive work emails can carry substantial risks. Before allowing employees to use their personal cell phones or other devices for work purposes, make sure you have strong electronic communications and Bring Your Own Device policies in … Continue Reading

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