Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions vs. Harvard, the American Alliance for Equal Rights has now sued two large law firms for alleged violations of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 over their fellowship programs offered to law students. Despite the Alliance’s complaints referencing gender, LGTBQ+ status and/or disability, the claims are limited to Section 1981 which addresses only racial discrimination in the fellowship programs.
The American First Legal Foundation and other organizations like it, have taken the position that all diversity, equity and inclusion programs are illegal since the Students for Fair Admissions Inc. decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The groups have already filed actions against several companies for polices that include goals for the placement of people of color and women in leadership and leadership pipeline positions to match community demographics by a certain year; employee training and apprenticeship programs focused on underrepresented groups; and quantitative representation metrics for leadership incorporated into annual incentive compensation awards for senior leadership.
In the midst of changing mask requirements and many people believing that the pandemic is now “over,” the City of Philadelphia has enacted a new COVID-19 sick leave law. On March 9, 2022, Mayor Kenney signed into law an amended version of the 2021 Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) requiring covered employers to provide paid sick leave for employees who test positive for COVID-19. This law will stay in effect until December 31, 2023.
On March 3, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021” (the Act) into law. Upon signing the bill, which had bipartisan Congressional support, President Biden proclaimed, “[w]hen it comes to sexual harassment and assault, forced arbitration shielded perpetrators, silenced survivors, enabled employers to sweep episodes of sexual assault harassment under the rug and it kept survivors from knowing if others have experienced the same thing in the same workplace, at the hands of the same person.”
On Friday, November 12, 2021, in BST Holdings, L.L.C, et al. v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Case # 21-60845, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order affirming its November 6, 2021 order, staying the implementation and enforcement of OSHA’s November 5, 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees who report to a workplace are vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The Fifth Circuit, which many consider to be the most politically conservative of all the circuit courts, issued its order following an expedited briefing schedule, prompted by an emergency motion to stay the ETS filed by various individuals, employers, religious groups and states. Pending further judicial review, the order barred OSHA from taking steps to implement or enforce the ETS. In response, OSHA has suspended all activities related to the ETS for the time being, stating: “While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.” Businesses now face an uncertain future with OSHA conceding that it will abide by the court’s order while pursuing its reversal. Because similar challenges to the ETS have been brought in all but one of the 12 federal circuit courts of appeals, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will conduct a lottery as required by statute, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. §2112 (a)(3), likely this week, to select which federal circuit will hear appeals in the numerous challenges, including with respect to the Fifth Circuit’s order. Any outcome from the circuit selected in the lottery process may and likely will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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.