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

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

The California state rules, which became effective June 15, 2021 (California’s “reopening”), eliminate capacity restrictions and social distancing and also permit fully vaccinated individuals to stop wearing masks in most situations.

Continue Reading California Return to Work: Finally, New Revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

On September 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed two bills that expanded worker protections related to COVID-19. AB 685 imposes reporting requirements related to when employees are exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. SB 1159 codifies Governor Newsom’s Executive Order providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage to employees who test positive for COVID-19 in connection with their employment between March 19 and July 5, 2020, and creating a new framework for workers’ compensation coverage for employees who test positive for COVID-19 after July 5, 2020.
Continue Reading California Expands Workplace Protections Related to COVID-19 by Enacting Two Statutes Regarding Notice Requirements and Workers’ Compensation Coverage

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) generally requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to eligible employees for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. On September 9, 2020, California’s Governor Newsom signed AB 1867. This law expands access to paid sick leave (“Coronavirus PSL”) to California workers employed by entities with 500 or more employees in the United States.
Continue Reading California Expands Coronavirus Paid Sick Leave with the Enactment of AB 1867

On August 27, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer released Executive Order 2020-172, entitled “Protecting workers who stay home, stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick,” which replaces Executive Order 2020-166. The new executive order is nearly identical to the one it replaces, with two important differences. First, the new order recognizes that an employee’s symptoms could be explained by other medical conditions, which should not prevent an employee from reporting to work. Second, the new order recognizes that an employee should not be required to stay home simply because he or she displays one of the more innocuous symptoms of COVID-19 on its own.
Continue Reading What Employers Need to Know About Michigan’s Latest Executive Order Protecting Workers

Following up on Dykema’s alert from June 18, 2020, President Trump signed a Proclamation that extends his April 22, 2020, 60-day ban on immigrant workers entering the United States until December 31, 2020. In addition, it also added those with H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 visas and any foreign national accompanying them to this ban. The Proclamation states this was done to address, in part, high unemployment levels due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Continue Reading Presidential Proclamation Extends Ban on Entry of Immigrants; Adds H-1B, L-1 and J-1 Visa Holders

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have made it clear that they will act to protect employees on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. On the one hand, as we explained in a prior client alert, they previously announced pre-clearance procedures and other guidelines intended to make it easier for companies to collaborate in legitimate, pro-competitive ways. In their latest announcement, the DOJ and FTC warned that they would not hesitate to protect all employees from companies that use COVID-19 as an excuse to collude in fixing wages, benefits, hours worked, or other aspects of employment. Given the government’s prior focus on antitrust issues in the labor market, including their prior indication that they will pursue criminal remedies where appropriate, employers must be more careful than ever to ensure that they do not run afoul of antitrust laws in this area.
Continue Reading Employers Beware: COVID-19 Will Not Excuse Wage or Labor Fixing Agreements