Another Lawsuit Challenging Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

Faegre Drinker previously reported on one of the first lawsuits challenging a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As employers continue to evaluate employee vaccination, another lawsuit has been filed in the Central District of California, California educators for Medical Freedom et al v. The Los Angeles Unified School District et al., 21-cv-02388 (C.D. Cal. filed 3/17/2021).

The California Educators for Medical Freedom, along with seven employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District, are seeking injunctive relief and potential damages due to a vaccine mandate instituted in March of 2021. Plaintiffs were allegedly told that if they were not vaccinated by April of 2021, they could face a “job detriment, up to and including termination from employment.”

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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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Now What? COVID-19 + Flu Season

Many workplaces are likely to see a rise in flu activity at the same time as an increased rate of COVID-19 infections. The paramount concern for all employers should be keeping sick workers out of the workplace. Now is the time to get ahead of the questions that are likely to arise. The CDC’s and other guidance will certainly continue to evolve, and it is important to continue to monitor developments and adjust policies accordingly. However, having a plan in place will bode well for employers and employees alike and will provide a solid starting place to incorporate new guidance as it is issued.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Revised DOL FFCRA Rules Narrow Health Care Provider Exemption, Ease Advance Notice Requirements

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued revisions to its Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid leave rules on Friday, in response to a New York federal court ruling that struck down portions of the original rule issued in April. FFCRA, enacted by Congress in March as a stimulus measure, provides eligible workers for up to two weeks of paid leave, subject to caps, for certain coronavirus-related absences, and up to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave to care for children who are at home due to school or day care closures. The rule updates are scheduled to go into effect September 16.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division Provides Work From Home Guidance

On August 24, 2020, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) published guidance addressing employer obligations to track employee hours while teleworking. The DOL emphasized that though the guidance is being issued in part due to the increase in teleworking arrangements with COVID-19, it applies to all telework or remote work arrangements, not only those caused by the pandemic.

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NLRB Expands Employer Options for Social Media and Non-Disparagement Rules

With the COVID-19 emergency impacting employers’ operations and the way employees work, more and more employees may start taking to social media to vent their opinions about work and current events (sometimes intertwining the two). Employee social media expression can damage an organization’s brand and violate its social media and non-disparagement rules. Discipline for social media expression can run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which provides certain protections for employee speech, including social media speech, so that employees often believe that anything goes in this forum. Fortunately for employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently clarified the types of employee social media activity employers may regulate, giving employers more latitude to discipline employees for social media conduct that violates employer rules and threatens the employer’s reputation.

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