This week, the New York State Department of Labor issued the new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard and model template plan under the NY HERO Act. However, with no current designation for COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease” by the New York State Commissioner of Health, the model plan is more of a playbook for the next outbreak.
Connecticut has joined the budding number of states legalizing recreational cannabis use. On June 22, 2021, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis (RERACA), which permits adults ages 21 and older to possess and use recreational cannabis. While the added strain on employers will not take effect until July 1, 2022, organizations should begin reviewing their current drug screening and testing policies and processes with employment counsel — and revisit training with hiring managers, HR professionals and supervisors.
Today, after much anticipation and just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccination issues raised under federal equal employment laws. We outline five things you need to know about the new guidance.
New Jersey recently joined a growing number of states and territories — including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington — legalizing recreational marijuana or cannabis. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy enacted the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA) on February 22, 2021 — legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for adults ages 21 and older — after New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative last November. The law comes with new employment protections for off-duty cannabis users that will significantly change how employers screen and conduct drug testing of job applicants and employees.
As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely accessible, and certain localities relax COVID-19 restrictions, employers hoping to ramp up on-site operations or reduce absenteeism face a new challenge: navigating employee vaccination. Employers are evaluating whether to mandate, strongly suggest or simply remain neutral regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and on-site work.
The considerations surrounding workplace vaccination programs are complex. Business justifications and accommodation issues, potential public relations and employee relations pitfalls, the impact of vaccination on workforce safety procedures, litigation risks on multiple fronts — these are just the beginning. To help piece together this business and regulatory puzzle, we have compiled a list of issues organizations should consider as they set policy and communication plans regarding on-site work and COVID-19 vaccines. We have also identified issues to consider with regard to the practical application of any such policy and the development of related communications to employees or others.
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses with no clear end in sight. While the prospect of a functioning vaccine may have a while to go, a spike in Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act litigation may be on the horizon. Furloughs and workforce reductions have been prevalent since mid-March, leaving millions of employees without jobs or on extended leaves while they wait (and hope) to be recalled to work. While only about a dozen WARN Act lawsuits have been filed to date, as layoffs extend beyond six months, new workforce reductions occur, and more plaintiffs’ attorneys shift their attention to WARN Act claims, the remainder of 2020 may become a hurricane season of sorts as WARN Act litigation could flood the courts. And as the days and weeks go by, an employer’s ability to successfully assert the “unforeseeable business circumstances” defense to providing less than 60 days’ notice of a “mass layoff” or “plant closing” has diminished and will only become more challenging for employers to assert.