Home » Archives by category » Communicable Diseases
DOL Sues Over Firing for E-Mail Allegedly Sharing Coronavirus Concerns

DOL Sues Over Firing for E-Mail Allegedly Sharing Coronavirus Concerns

​The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed suit against an Austin, Texas, car dealer for firing an employee who warned managers and other co-workers in an all-staff e-mail about potential coronavirus hazards in the workplace. We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.Violation of OSH Act ClaimedIn an Oct. 13 news release about the lawsuit, the DOL maintained that the car dealer violated the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act by retaliating against the worker in December 2020. After learning a co-worker had tested positive for the coronavirus, the employee asked management to notify colleagues immediately of their risk of exposure, according to the DOL. When management allegedly did not act, the employee sent an e-mail to all company employees about the potential hazards. Less than an hour later, he was fired. An attorney for the car dealer declined to comment on the case.(DOL)Employee’s E-Mail”It has come to my attention that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19,” the worker said in his e-mail to staff. “I feel it is important to inform all employees of the current situation.” In firing him, the defendant claimed the whistleblower had identified the employee with COVID-19, which the DOL said he hadn’t done, and the defendant allegedly told him “his only job was to fix cars.” “This employee acted out of real concern for their safety and that of their co-workers, and their actions are protected under federal law,” said John Rainwater, the DOL’s regional solicitor of labor in Dallas.(Business Insider) Compensatory and Punitive Damages SoughtIn the DOL’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, the department sought reinstatement for the worker, lost wages and benefits due to the firing, reimbursement for costs and expenses, compensatory damages and punitive damages.(Insurance Journal)COVID-19 Litigation Targets Health Care IndustryThe health care industry is the hardest hit by COVID-19 employment litigation, according to Fisher Phillips’ COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker. As of the beginning of June, more than one in five of every pandemic-related lawsuits filed across the country had been filed against health care employers: 540 out of more than 2,400 cases. The total number of cases has since risen to 3,690. Of those claims, whistleblower retaliation lawsuits are the most common type brought against health care employers.(Fisher Phillips) OSHA Cited Employer for COVID-19 Safety Violations After Worker’s DeathA national auto insurance company is facing $23,406 in proposed penalties after investigators found that a Colorado branch ignored pandemic-related safety rules and “needlessly exposed” employees to co-workers with COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA initiated an investigation on April 21 after receiving a complaint about unsafe working conditions and an employee’s COVID-19-related death. The company did not respond to a request for comment.(SHRM Online) …

Court Puts United Airlines’ Vaccination Mandate on Hold

Comments Off on Court Puts United Airlines’ Vaccination Mandate on Hold
Court Puts United Airlines’ Vaccination Mandate on Hold

​On Oct. 12, a federal district court temporarily halted United Airlines’ vaccination mandate, keeping the employees who challenged the policy on the payroll while litigation proceeds. We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.United Planned to Put Employees with Medical, Religious Exemptions on LeaveLess than 3 percent of United’s 67,000 employees requested an exemption for religious or medical reasons. United said that if the medical exemptions were granted, the employees would be placed on medical leave, which may or may not be paid, depending on union contracts. Employees whose religious exemptions were granted would be placed on indefinite unpaid leave but retain seniority rights if they later returned to the company. Six employees sued, seeking to stay on the payroll. “The court is not currently ruling on the merits of the parties’ arguments,” the judge said. “Rather, the court seeks simply to avoid the risk of irreparable harm to the parties and to maintain the status quo while the court holds an evidentiary hearing.”(CNN)Judge’s Subsequent RemarkOn Oct. 13, the judge told United Airlines and plaintiffs during a hearing that he was wary of ordering a private company to change its policy.(Law360)United Airlines’ Statement”Vaccine requirements work and nearly all of United’s U.S. employees have chosen to get a shot,” United Airlines said in a statement. “For a number of our employees who were approved for an accommodation, we’re working to put options in place that reduce the risk to their health and safety, including new testing regimens, temporary job reassignments and masking protocols.” The judge’s temporary restraining order expires Oct. 26.(NPR)Lawsuit Brought in TexasThe lawsuit was brought in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates in the state. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.(ABC 7 Chicago) and (SHRM Online)Class Action Is PossibleThe plaintiffs, who seek to represent a nationwide class of more than 2,000 United employees, said the policy effectively means they must choose between their beliefs or health and their livelihoods. “We’re reviewing this complaint in greater detail but at this point, we think it’s without merit,” an airline spokesperson said.(The Wall Street Journal)Three Unions Support Vaccine MandateUnited says its policy has one purpose: “to keep our people safe.” Three unions at United Airlines supported the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. However, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers criticized the policy on Sept. 17.(SHRM Online) and (SHRM Online)Company Vaccine Mandates Now Common Among AirlinesAll major U.S. airlines but Delta have a policy mandating employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Delta Air Lines will charge unvaccinated workers a $200 monthly premium surcharge as of Nov. 1. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), (SHRM Online) and (CNBC)Vaccine Mandate Is Imminent for Medium to Large EmployersOn Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced plans for a new rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their workers be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The president also …

Continue reading …

Employers, Workers and Leaders React to Texas Ban on Vaccine Mandates

Comments Off on Employers, Workers and Leaders React to Texas Ban on Vaccine Mandates
Employers, Workers and Leaders React to Texas Ban on Vaccine Mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued a broad executive order essentially banning vaccine mandates in the state—a directive that covers private employers and conflicts with federal requirements. Until the conflict is resolved, many businesses in the state may have to choose between complying with federal or state orders.In September, President Joe Biden announced the six-part Path Out of the Pandemic. Among other steps, the administration is requiring most federal employees and federal contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but employers will need to explore reasonable accommodations for workers with certain medical and religious objections. Additionally, private employers with at least 100 employees will soon be required to mandate that employees get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. The Texas order conflicts with federal directives by broadly allowing people to decline to get vaccinated “for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.” Abbott said, “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced.”Legal experts predict that Abbott’s order will be challenged in court and note that judges have generally upheld vaccine mandates, according to The New York Times.We’ve rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets on workplace COVID-19 vaccination news.Mixed ReactionsA group of Houston-based NASA employees gathered to welcome Abbott’s executive order and voice opposition to Biden’s mandate, saying that the decision to get vaccinated should be left up to the individual. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, however, said Abbott’s order is not in the best interest of public health. U.S. Congress members from Texas disagree on whether the ban is appropriate. “Obviously, some people are resistant if they feel like the government’s ordering them to do something,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. However, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, called Abbott’s executive order “a real overreach.”(FOX 7 Austin)American, Southwest Airlines Plan to Proceed with MandatesAmerican Airlines is the largest U.S. airline and is based in Fort Worth, Texas. The airline’s officials are reviewing Abbott’s executive order but said they think that Biden’s mandate “supersedes any conflicting state laws.” Southwest Airlines is also based in Texas. CEO Gary Kelly told ABC News that he doesn’t personally agree with mandating vaccines, but Southwest will do its “best to comply” with Biden’s order for federal contractors. The two airlines collectively employee about 172,000 workers, according to Bloomberg. (Forbes)IBM to Require VaccinationTech giant IBM—which has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio—will maintain its policy that all direct employees of federal contractors must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. “We will continue to protect the health and safety of IBM employees and clients, and we will continue to follow federal requirements,” the company said in a statement to TIME.(TIME)White House Responds to Texas OrderWhite House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “We’re going to continue to implement the law—which the president of the United States has the ability, the authority, the legal authority to do—and we are going to continue to work to get more people vaccinated, to get out of this pandemic.” (Bloomberg)More States Push Back on Workplace …

Continue reading …

When May an Employer Reject a Religious Accommodation Request?

Comments Off on When May an Employer Reject a Religious Accommodation Request?
When May an Employer Reject a Religious Accommodation Request?

​An employer that requires vaccinations against COVID-19 must grant sincere religious accommodation requests, so long as they don’t cause an undue hardship on the company. How can a business tell whether an objection to vaccination is based on a genuinely held religious belief and accommodate without creating an undue hardship?”Because it is so hard to effectively challenge whether a particular belief is genuinely held, most employers will probably choose to skip the first step and go straight to the accommodation question,” said Anthony George, an attorney with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in Denver.Sincerely Held Religious BeliefThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) guidance on COVID-19 and EEO laws states that employers “should ordinarily assume that an employee’s request for religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance.””Under this guidance, employers should request additional information only in the rare cases when the employer has an objective basis to question whether the employee is sincere or to question whether the employee’s belief is actually religious in nature,” said Erika Todd, an attorney with Sullivan & Worcester in Boston.”What is considered a religious belief under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] is very broad and difficult for employers to challenge,” said Jill Cohen, an attorney with Eckert Seamans in Lawrenceville, N.J. The EEOC has said in its compliance manual on religious discrimination that the definition of “religion” extends to traditional religions and religious beliefs that are “new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others.” “Beliefs pertaining only to economic, social, personal preferences, or political ideals typically are not considered religious for purposes of Title VII,” Cohen said.”If the objection refers to vague constitutional rights or political views or natural law, then the employer may reasonably conclude that the objection is not based in religion and may be overruled,” George said.”Concerns about vaccine safety, toxicity, efficacy, the trustworthiness of the media, government or the pharmaceutical industry are not religious beliefs,” said Richard Reice, an attorney with Kauff McGuire & Margolis in New York City. That said, an employee with a disability may need to be excused from a vaccine mandate.”Employers [that] develop an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief are permitted to seek additional supporting information, as necessary, to make a reasonable business decision,” said Joseph Vaughan, an attorney with Vaughan Baio & Partners in Philadelphia. Employers should consider four factors established by the EEOC in its questions and answers on religious discrimination in the workplace. These factors might undermine an employee’s assertion that he or she sincerely holds the religious belief at issue and include whether:The employee has behaved in a manner markedly inconsistent with the professed belief.The accommodation sought is a particularly desirable benefit that is likely to be sought for secular reasons.The timing of the request renders it suspect—for example, it follows an earlier request by the …

Continue reading …

Does Your COVID-19 Employee Health-Screening Policy Need an Update?

Comments Off on Does Your COVID-19 Employee Health-Screening Policy Need an Update?
Does Your COVID-19 Employee Health-Screening Policy Need an Update?

Employers that conduct daily temperature checks and other COVID-19 health screens may want to review and revise their policies as rules and recommendations change, particularly in locations with high COVID-19 transmission rates. New coronavirus cases recently dropped below 100,000 a day for the first time since Aug. 3, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still reporting a rolling seven-day average of about 95,000 new cases and more than 1,400 deaths each day. Additionally, more than 95 percent of U.S. counties are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. To help keep employees safe and curb the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that employers consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks before employees enter the worksite, and some jurisdictions require such screening. Here are some key points employers should note about conducting these health checks. Review State and Local RulesSome states and localities require or recommend that businesses conduct employee health screening in certain situations. For example, in California, employers must comply with the state’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which require employers to ensure employees don’t enter the worksite if they have symptoms or have been exposed to the coronavirus. “Employers should also have procedures to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms and must have a plan to keep other employees safe in the workplace,” according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires screening and recommends temperature checks. “While temperature checks are not specifically required, Nevada OSHA expects employers to monitor employee health conditions by conducting daily surveys of changes to employee health conditions,” according to the state’s website. “Temperature checks are a useful method of identifying potentially infectious people in the workplace and can serve as a method of screening for health issues.”Law firm Littler Mendelson has a list of statewide orders and noted that local laws may apply in addition to state requirements. “Even if state or local law do not require any screening mechanisms, employers are able to implement temperature checks or other types of screening prior to allowing employees or other visitors to enter the worksite,” noted Michael DeLarco, an attorney with Hogan Lovells in New York City. Medical Inquiries”Employers need to understand that temperature checks and health-screening questions are medical questions,” said Brooke Schneider, an attorney with Withers in New York City. “And so, like any other inquiries into health, employers need to consider wage and hour laws, disability laws, privacy laws and document-retention laws. All come into play when an employer is setting up policies that deal with health concerns.”The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. For pandemic-related screens, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that employers may measure employees’ body temperature, but they should note that some people with COVID-19 don’t have a fever (and some people with a fever don’t have COVID-19).Employers should vigilantly track changing guidance from the CDC when tailoring their COVID-19 …

Continue reading …

OSHA Sends COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to White House for Review

Comments Off on OSHA Sends COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to White House for Review
OSHA Sends COVID-19 Vaccination Rule to White House for Review

​Businesses with at least 100 employees may soon receive direction on an anticipated COVID-19 workplace vaccination and testing mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). On Oct. 12, the agency sent its emergency temporary standard (ETS) to the White House for final review.President Announces PlanOn Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced that OSHA would issue an ETS requiring covered businesses to mandate that their workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing. Covered employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated. Employers that don’t comply with the vaccine mandate or paid-time-off requirement may face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The rule will impact more than 80 million workers, according to the White House.(SHRM Online)Expedited ProcessOSHA sent the rule to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Oct. 12. The regulatory review process can sometimes take months, but Biden called for an expedited process for the emergency standard. So the regulatory office could quickly conclude its review any day now, which would prompt OSHA to publish the ETS. The ETS could take effect immediately upon publication, but OSHA generally provides businesses with a little time before they must comply. (Bloomberg Law)Questions RemainOSHA’s plan hasn’t been made available to the public. “The details of what the ETS will include are scarce at this point, leaving many questions unanswered,” noted law firm Fisher Phillips. How will the 100-employee threshold be counted? Will employers be required to collect proof of vaccination? What type of testing will be required? Will remote employees be covered?”You should begin preparing now for the forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard by establishing policies for determining employees’ vaccination status and procedures for tracking weekly test results,” according to Fisher Phillips. “You should also prepare for the possibility that employees may refuse to comply with the requirements of the ETS and begin planning an appropriate response—which would include terminating their employment.”Fisher Phillips predicts that the White House will approve the ETS by Oct. 15 and OSHA will make the details available to the public between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20. Employers may have some additional time before the rule is officially published and enforcement begins. (SHRM Online) and (Fisher Phillips)Employers React to MandateSome business leaders are waiting to review the details of OSHA’s ETS before making changes to their policies. Other executives have extended their remote work policies to give themselves time to review the ETS. Some smaller employers are concerned about the cost and other compliance burdens that the new rule will impose, and at least one small-business advocacy group is planning to file a legal challenge. According to a survey of HR leaders conducted by research firm Gartner on Sept. 15, 46 percent of respondents said they plan to require employees to get vaccinated in locations that allow such policies. However, more than 33 percent of respondents said they remain unsure about their vaccine plans. (The Wall Street Journal)Federal Employees …

Continue reading …

New York Ordered to Provide Religious Exemptions to State Vaccine Mandate

Comments Off on New York Ordered to Provide Religious Exemptions to State Vaccine Mandate
New York Ordered to Provide Religious Exemptions to State Vaccine Mandate

​New York State must let employers provide religious exemptions to a mandate that state health care workers get vaccinated against COVID-19, at least while litigation over the mandate proceeds, a federal district court judge decided Oct. 12. We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.Religious ObjectionsThe 17 plaintiffs are practicing doctors, M.D.s fulfilling their residency requirement, nurses, a nuclear medicine technologist, a cognitive rehabilitation therapist and a physician’s liaison. They are employed by hospitals, nursing homes and other New York State entities. The plaintiffs hold the sincere religious belief that they can’t consent to be inoculated with vaccines that “were tested, developed or produced with fetal cell lines derived from procured abortions,” their complaint states.The question in the case is whether the state’s elimination of a religious exemption conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers, according to the court. “The answer to this question is clearly yes,” the court said.(U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York)Ruling’s ImpactThe court order temporarily blocks part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s effort to require vaccination for all health care workers. It offers a reprieve for thousands of unvaccinated doctors, nurses and support workers who had applied for religious exemptions and who would have been barred from working had the judge ruled for the state. The vaccine mandate remains in effect for all other health care workers.(The New York Times)Governor Defends MandateHochul defended New York’s mandate in a statement about the order. “My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” she said. “I stand behind this mandate and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”(FOX News)Religious Exemptions Expected Under OSHA’s RuleBusinesses with at least 100 employees will soon be required to mandate that employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing. An emergency temporary standard is expected from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s rule will almost certainly affirm that employers must accommodate employees who refuse to be vaccinated based on a sincerely held belief or medical exemption, said Paula Ketcham, an attorney with Schiff Hardin in Chicago.(SHRM Online)Is an Employee’s Religious Objection Sincere?To determine whether an employee’s objection is based on religious beliefs, ask the following:During the discussion about the objection, did the employee continually veer off into the politics of COVID-19 or vaccines?Does the employee’s real concern appear to be the safety of the vaccines?Does the employee’s real concern appear to be that mandatory vaccination is an infringement on his or her personal freedom?Does the employee seem to genuinely believe it would be a sin to get the vaccine?Can the employee reasonably articulate why he or she believes that vaccination would be sinful?(SHRM Online)EEOC GuidanceThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has weighed in with guidance that answers some workplace vaccination questions. For example, the agency said that federal anti-discrimination laws don’t prohibit …

Continue reading …

Los Angeles County Issues Vaccine Verification Rules for Hospitality Businesses

Comments Off on Los Angeles County Issues Vaccine Verification Rules for Hospitality Businesses
Los Angeles County Issues Vaccine Verification Rules for Hospitality Businesses

Not long after West Hollywood issued an emergency order requiring vaccine verification and a vaccine mandate for certain businesses, Los Angeles County followed suit with its own vaccine mandate for many hospitality workplaces and large events. The county just issued an updated health officer order—with most requirements taking effect Oct. 7—with new vaccine or proof of negative test requirements for outdoor mega events and a vaccine verification and vaccine mandate for bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges. It also strongly recommends that restaurants and food facilities reserve and prioritize indoor seating and services for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about this new Los Angeles County order.Who is Affected by the Changes?The order impacts operators of:Outdoor mega events.Bars, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges for indoor services.Restaurants and food facilities.The requirements differ for each of these three sectors and the order only includes strong recommendations for restaurants and food facilities.Outdoor Mega Events”Mega events” are defined as events that have greater than 1,000 indoor or 10,000 outdoor attendees. This includes conventions, conferences, expos, concerts, shows, nightclubs, sporting events, live events and entertainment, fairs, festivals, parades, theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, large private events or gatherings, marathons or endurance races, and car shows.Extending the requirements that apply to indoor mega events, beginning Oct. 7, operators of outdoor mega events that are ticketed or held in a defined space with controlled points of entry, for all attendees ages 12 or older, are required to either:Verify the full vaccination status.Obtain a pre-entry negative COVID-19 viral test result.The vaccine verification or negative test will be required prior to entry to the event. In addition, attendees are required to wear face masks at all times, except when eating or drinking.Outdoor mega event operators are required to prominently place information on all communications, including reservation and ticketing systems, informing attendees of the Order’s requirements that all attendees either be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test result prior to attending the event and the requirement of wearing a face mask while in attendance.The order contains specific instructions on what is acceptable proof of vaccination status and negative test results for outdoor mega events.Acceptable proof of full vaccination status is a photo identification of the attendee and one of the following:Vaccination card, including name of person vaccinated, type of COVID-19 vaccine provided and date of last dose administered.A photo of the vaccination card as a separate document.A photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device.Documentation of the person’s full vaccination from a healthcare provider.Beginning Nov. 1, operators of outdoor mega events are required to cross-check proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 viral test result against a photo identification for all attendees who are 18 years of age or older.Pre-entry negative testing is testing that must be conducted within 72 hours before event start time. Results of the test must be available prior to entry into the event or venue. Acceptable proof of a negative COVID-19 test is a photo identification …

Continue reading …

Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

Comments Off on Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation
Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker just signed legislation extending the statewide mandate for employers to provide emergency paid leave related to COVID-19. These COVID-19 paid leave obligations will now continue until April 1, 2022. What do Bay State employers need to know about this latest change in an already confusing sea of voluntary and mandatory leave mandates?What’s Changed?As avid readers of our Insights may recall, we provided a comprehensive assessment of Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave statute when it was enacted by the legislature in May 2021. The good news for you is that the legislature left the existing law largely intact.However, in addition to extending the mandate from Sept. 30, 2021 to April 1, 2022, the legislature made one change to the qualifying reasons for leave. Employees will now be eligible to care for a family member who “is obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or is recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.” This change aligns the self-care and family-care provisions of the law and further bolsters the Commonwealth’s commitment to encouraging vaccinations.It does not appear, however, that employees who have used their 40-hour entitlement will be entitled to any additional leave under the statute. According to a Frequently Asked Questions page maintained by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, while the law does not address how many times an employee can take leave, there is a cap with respect to total hours (40).A Brief RefresherAs a reminder, all public and private employers in Massachusetts (other than the U.S. government) are required to provide up to 40 additional hours of paid leave to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19. The amount of paid leave an employee is entitled to depends on the number of hours they work in a given week:Those regularly working 40 or more hours per week will receive 40 hours of COVID-19 paid leave.Employees regularly working fewer than 40 hours per week will receive COVID-19 paid leave that is equal to the number of hours that the employee works on average over a 14-day period.Employees working varying hours from week to week will receive COVID-19 paid leave equivalent to the average number of hours they worked each week over the six-month period immediately preceding the date on which they take the COVID-19 paid leave. If the employee did not work a six-month period prior to taking leave, then they will receive leave based on their reasonable expectation of the average number of hours per week that they would normally be scheduled to work.What Can Employees Use the Leave For?Employees may use COVID-19 paid leave for the following qualifying reasons:Self-isolating and caring for oneself because of the employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis.Seeking or obtaining a medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.Obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.Caring for a family member who is self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.Caring for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for …

Continue reading …

Some States Are Pushing Back on Workplace Vaccination Mandates

Comments Off on Some States Are Pushing Back on Workplace Vaccination Mandates
Some States Are Pushing Back on Workplace Vaccination Mandates

Leaders in some states are considering measures that would require employers to accept negative COVID-19 tests or proof of natural immunity as an alternative to vaccination requirements.On Oct. 11, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a broad executive order banning vaccine mandates in the state. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said. Additionally, some state-level bills aim to provide exceptions from federal and employer coronavirus vaccine mandates. Lawmakers in Arkansas, for example, recently sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would give workers two options if they chose not to get vaccinated: submit to weekly COVID-19 testing or submit proof biannually of natural antibodies from prior infection. The bill’s sponsors said, “Vaccination mandates are an overreach of authority.”The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, is still urging everyone who is eligible, even people who already had the coronavirus, to get vaccinated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also said, “Vaccination is the key element in a multi-layered approach to protect workers.” According to OSHA, the coronavirus spreads mainly among unvaccinated people who are in close contact with each other, particularly when they are indoors and where ventilation is poor.We’ve rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets on workplace COVID-19 vaccination news. Path Out of the PandemicPresident Joe Biden announced the six-part “Path Out of the Pandemic” on Sept. 9. Among other steps, the administration is requiring most federal employees and federal contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Biden’s order eliminated the option for such workers to opt for regular testing instead of vaccination. Additionally, private employers with at least 100 employees will soon be required to mandate that employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to testing. Employers are still waiting for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS), but the ETS will let private-sector employers allow “any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work,” according to the White House.(SHRM Online)Private Employers Included in Texas OrderAbbott’s executive order banning COVID-19 vaccination mandates broadly covers all entities. including private employers. “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” the order states. “I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.” Legal experts predict that Abbott’s order will be challenged in court and noted that judges have generally upheld vaccine mandates. (The New York Times)State Attorneys General Issue Letter Opposing MandateThe lead attorneys from 24 Republican-led states recently signed a letter opposing Biden’s vaccination directives. Among other issues, they said the administration’s policy “inexplicably fails to recognize natural immunity.” Additionally, they said, “There are many less intrusive means to combat the spread …

Continue reading …
Page 1 of 3123