EEOC Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Addressing Vaccinations in the Workplace

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.

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Getting Into the Weeds: What the Legalization of Recreational Cannabis Means for New Jersey Employers

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.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Planning for Employers: Questions to Consider for Policy and Practice

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.

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As Fall Approaches, WARN Act Lawsuits Likely to Heat Up

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.

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Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19: Considerations for Retailers

In the latest update to our Q&A guide to returning to work in the time of COVID-19, we lay out considerations and action items for retailers — including bars and restaurants, personal health and beauty service providers, and clothing and big box stores — as they prepare to safely reopen their doors to customers.

For the full guide, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Arbitration Provisions: Applicable to Independent Contractors or Not?

A group of security workers for the National Football League urged Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the Southern District of New York to deny the NFL’s motion to arbitrate the group’s claims, arguing they never agreed to arbitrate statutory employment rights with the league. In Foran, et al. v. National Football League, et al., the group of security workers sued the NFL in November 2018 for unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), among other claims, alleging the NFL misclassified them as independent contractors. The NFL moved to compel arbitration arguing the security workers’ claims are covered by the arbitration provision in their independent contractor agreements. The plaintiffs, in opposition, contend that unless the arbitration provision specifically includes a waiver of statutory claims under the FLSA, the NFL cannot compel arbitration of the claims. The motion remains pending before Judge Carter.

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