On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion that severely limits California’s right to enlist employees as private attorneys general to enforce California labor law by allowing employers to use mandatory arbitration provisions to defeat such representative claims.
Continue Reading In a Big Win for California Employers, SCOTUS Limits the Reach of the Golden State’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004

On June 9, 2022, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to pass what is known as a CROWN Act, a law prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle. CROWN stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” Consequently, the Austin City Code will be revised to prohibit discrimination based on protective hairstyle in housing, public accommodations, and employment. Protective hairstyles are those necessitated by, or resulting from, the characteristics of a hair texture or hairstyle commonly associated with race, national origin, ethnicity, or culture, and include but are not limited to afros, Bantu knots, braids, cornrows, curls, locs, twists, or hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled.
Continue Reading Austin City Council Passes First CROWN Act Applicable to Private Employers in Texas

All too often, employers find this out the hard way—they get audited by the U.S. Department of Labor or they get sued, and vis-à-vis a class action, to boot. On June 13 and 14, during the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference in New Orleans, I’ll address a number of compliance issues and also discuss recent initiatives on the wage and hour front from inside The Beltway. Among the issues that we’ll  dive into are:
Continue Reading Wage and Hour Compliance: It’s Not as Simple as it May Look!

Religious Exemptions to Mandatory Vaccine Policy

Employees who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons are protected by Title VII. Therefore, religious accommodations for the COVID-19 vaccine should be treated like any other religion-based accommodation request. Employers should continue to provide employees with a clear and accessible process for requesting an accommodation and should continue to analyze requested accommodations on a case-by-case basis and offer accommodations when required pursuant to the law and its policies. Importantly, employees requesting such an accommodation need not use any specific phrase, or “magical words,” in order to trigger an employer’s obligations. Employers should keep in mind that all sincerely held religious beliefs may give rise to an accommodation obligation, not only “mainstream” or commonly-known religions.
Continue Reading Granting Religious Accommodations for COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know

Telecommuting is not a new phenomenon. Whether on a full-time, part-time or sporadic basis, telecommuting has been voluntarily offered by employers, and in some cases, required as an accommodation for an employee with a disability for many years. And of course, for many employers telecommuting became a necessity during the pandemic. As employers are returning to more traditional work arrangements, however, many are faced with employees who wish to continue working from home. The push to normalize remote work is not, however, limited to employees. Many employers are taking the initiative to make this option more permanent as well in an effort to attract and retain talent.

Whether the impetus is employee or employer driven (or both) employers should review their policies and practices to avoid risks associated with telecommuting. Remote work, like other flexible work options, should be governed by a formal policy that addresses legal issues that can arise with a remote workforce including the following:
Continue Reading Telecommuting – The Reality of Employee Expectations

Many employees are being asked to return to the office this Summer due to perceptions, true or untrue, about waning COVID infections. As a result, a number of employees are asking to remain remote or telework because they have found a better work-life balance during the pandemic. Before denying these requests due to the “team building” experience of all working in one location, employers should be aware of potential Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) pitfalls.
Continue Reading Remote Work as a Reasonable Accommodation

In the past two years, California lawmakers have focused their efforts on resolving the negative effects of COVID-19 and its variants, placing primary responsibility on employers. Several laws were recently enacted that impact employers in the context of workers’ compensation, workplace safety, and particularly, paid sick leave. California’s paid sick leave laws are daunting. The laws have become increasingly complex with unclear requirements. The following is a summary of the major paid sick leave laws including some of the compliance issues:
Continue Reading The California 2022 Trifecta of Paid Sick Leave Laws: Employers Beware

On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion on the application for stay filed in National Federal of Independent Business v. Department of Labor. In that opinion, a six-member majority of the Court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had exceeded its authority in issuing an emergency technical standard requiring the vaccination of employees of larger employers.
Continue Reading Off Again: United States Supreme Court Blocks OSHA COVID-19 ETS

Late Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an Order and Opinion lifting the stay that previously had been entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which had prevented the OSHA COVID-19 emergency technical standard (the “ETS”) that applied to employers with 100 or more employees from going into effect. This reversal puts many employers in the position of having to immediately restart compliance efforts that may have been paused during the pendency of the stay.

Continue Reading On Again; Sixth Circuit Lifts Stay on OSHA COVID-19 ETS

A few things employers should consider as the New Year approaches

As a new year approaches, one thing many have in common is wondering about what lies ahead. Here are just a few things employers should be considering. The overarching theme? Compliance.

Every year, laws change. For employers, these changes flag new compliance issues. This year, perhaps more than any in recent history, this exercise is more critical. Congress is primed to enact new laws in the pending infrastructure package which has, in part, set this in motion. The Biden Administration and the President’s appointments to various agencies have also dramatically made this concern even more important. These changes will require employers to review how they have been operating over the years, and how these statutory and other legal developments will require them to alter their practices going forward. This article highlights a few of these items.

Continue Reading Labor & Employment Compliance in 2022