Pennsylvania Federal Judge Tosses Challenge to Employer Jab or Swab Mandate

On August 26, 2022, Chief U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed a putative class action representing approximately 100 healthcare company employees brought against their employer, Geisinger Clinic. In the suit, the employees challenged their employer’s policy requiring employees to either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or agree to regular testing and quarantining. In dismissing the complaint, the court rejected the employees’ religious discrimination, constitutional, and state law claims, calling the employees’ evidence “a collection of distorted statements and anti-vaccine hocus-pocus.”

‘It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again’: the District of Columbia’s Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Takes Effect on October 1, 2022

After more than two years of delay and amendment, the District of Columbia’s Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020, which was introduced in the pre-pandemic days of 2020, will finally take legal effect on October 1, 2022. Efforts to amend the 2020 act culminated in the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 (D.C. Act 24-526), which Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law on July 27, 2022.

Workplace Safety in Arizona: OSHA Delays Decision on Proposal to Revoke State Plan

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is holding off on deciding whether to revoke final approval of Arizona’s occupational safety and health (OSH) plan. On August 10, 2022, OSHA said it is extending the comment period on a proposed rule to revoke the state’s approval for another 60 days and postponed a public hearing tentatively scheduled for August 16, 2022.

California Appellate Court Rules That Purely Digital Retail Businesses Are Not Covered Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act

On August 1, 2022, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, in Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., resolved two outstanding issues in the website accessibility field in a way that limits the reach of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) as part of a growing resistance in the judiciary to an onslaught of website accessibility claims.

ADA Design Standards Expected for Sales and Ticketing Kiosks and Other Self-Service Transaction Machines

The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (commonly known as the Access Board) announced that it intends to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) in August 2022 that would create scoping and technical standards for self-service transaction devices.

Not Monkeying Around Anymore: Time for Employers to Pay Attention to Monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) director general declared the current outbreak of monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Similarly, San Francisco declared a public health emergency due to the increase in monkeypox cases and the state of New York declared the spread of the virus an “imminent threat to public health.”

Workplace Safety in Arizona: Update on OSHA’s Proposal to Revoke State Plan

On April 21, 2022, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a a proposed rule to revoke Arizona’s occupational safety and health (OSH) plan’s final approval under Section 18(e) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. In its notice, OSHA proposed revoking its affirmative determination granting final approval to Arizona’s state OSH plan, which, if implemented, would return Arizona’s plan to “initial approval” status resulting in discretionary concurrent enforcement jurisdiction between OSHA and the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH).

Fifth Circuit Relied on ‘Next to No Evidence’ of Animus in Discrimination Suit

On May 13, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of an employer, finding that a fired employee had failed to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to pretext. In Owens v. Circassia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the court affirmed summary judgment despite its recognition that the former employee had presented “substantial evidence” that could lead a reasonable jury to conclude that the employer’s stated reason for termination—her poor job performance—was false.

Minnesota Enacts Legislation Funding Unemployment Coffers, Authorizing Pay to Frontline Workers, and Requiring Notice

On April 29, 2022, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Senate File (S.F.) No. 2677 into law, replenishing the state unemployment coffers and authorizing payments to various frontline workers. This new law requires Minnesota employers to provide notice to eligible frontline workers regarding potential additional benefits available to them.

DOJ Emphasizes Need for Individualized Assessments in Finding Indiana Nursing Board Violated ADA

On March 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found the Indiana State Board of Nursing violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to allow a nurse taking medicine prescribed to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) from participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program (ISNAP).

Minnesota Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills to Watch

The Minnesota Legislature, currently in regular session until mid- to late May 2022, has drafted various bills that may impact Minnesota employers and employees. Notably, some of the major bills under consideration (or already enacted) include a hair antidiscrimination bill, a measure extending the COVID-19 presumption of workers’ compensation eligibility for certain healthcare workers, and a proposal to restrict noncompete agreements.

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Montana Law That Conflicts With CMS Vaccine Rule

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued a preliminary injunction in Montana Medical Association v. Knudsen, enjoining enforcement of part of Montana’s vaccination law against “all Montana health care facilities and individual practitioners and clinics” subject to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

OSHA Announces Intent to Focus Inspections in Healthcare Facilities With Attention on COVID-19 Healthcare ETS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remains focused on the pandemic in certain workplaces as indicated by its announcement of a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to COVID-19. Interestingly, the focus of the NEP includes checking to confirm that certain elements of the COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS) are in place.

California Unmasks—California Department of Public Health Revises Guidance for Use of Face Masks in Indoor Settings

On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance, further loosening the rules for wearing COVID-19–related masks in the state. Effective March 1, 2022, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask in indoor public settings, although the CDPH included “a strong recommendation” that all individuals, “regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.”

No Surprises Act: Federal Court Invalidates Parts of the Independent Dispute Resolution Process

On February 23, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas struck down the part of the interagency interim final rule implementing the “independent dispute resolution” (IDR) procedures created by the No Surprises Act, which took effect for calendar-year plans on January 1, 2022 (Texas Medical Association v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Though the bulk of the rule remains in effect, the changes will impact health plans and the employers that sponsor them.

New York City Will Lift Mask and ‘Key to NYC’ Requirements

On February 27, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that if COVID-19 indicators continue to display low risk levels, the “Key to NYC” will be lifted, effective March 7, 2022. Individuals will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination to enter certain covered establishments, such as indoor dining, entertainment, and fitness establishments. Former New York City mayor Bill De Blasio implemented the Key to NYC through Emergency Executive Order 225 on August 17, 2021.