On June 6, 2022, after a year of public meetings and feedback, the Bloomington City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will require employers in the city to provide paid sick and safe leave to most workers.
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.
On June 7, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MNDOLI) issued its long-awaited approved employer notice regarding requirements under the Frontline Worker Pay Law.
As expected, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry recently provided an update regarding the new Frontline Worker Pay Law by distributing a fact sheet and a set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Several cases of monkeypox has now been found in the United States. We do not yet know whether employers will need to worry about monkeypox in the context of their workforces and workplace, but it may be wise to be informed.
The Supreme Court of the United States, on April 28, 2022, held that emotional distress damages are not available for private discrimination claims under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
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.
On March 18, 2022, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed nineteen bills into law, including, most notably for nursing home and assisted living facility employers, Senate Bill (SB) 1242, which strengthens employee background checks.
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).
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.
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.
On March 9, 2022, the Ontario government announced a plan to bring an end to all COVID-19 restrictions by April 27, 2022. Here is a summary of the upcoming employment-related changes.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
On January 31, 2022, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) published permanent rules relating to COVID-19 vaccination and masking requirements in healthcare settings, just a few days after issuing similar rules for K-12 schools. The permanent rules replaced temporary rules that expire after 180 days.
On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion staying preliminary injunctions issued in cases filed in Missouri and Louisiana challenging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare providers. The ruling stayed preliminary injunctions applicable to twenty-four states. Twenty-five states were already subject to enforcement under the CMS rule. This left Texas standing alone and in limbo.
On January 18, 2022, the City of Milwaukee Common Council passed an ordinance that would require masks to be worn indoors until March 1, 2022. The city’s acting mayor has not yet signed the order, but he has signaled that he is likely to do so.
On January 13, 2022, in a 5-4 split decision, the Court issued an opinion staying the injunctions against the healthcare interim final rule, which allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to now enforce its vaccine mandate nationwide (with the key compliance dates now being January 27, 2022, and February 28, 2022).
In a pair of related rulings in Hayes v. University Health Shreveport, LLC, and Nelson v. Ochsner Lafayette General, the Supreme Court of Louisiana held on January 7, 2022, that private Louisiana employers may mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.
On Friday, January 7, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on challenges to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination mandate for certain healthcare providers.
On December 15, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed, in part, a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare providers.
In a November 30, 2021, order, a federal judge sitting in Louisiana entered a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) interim final rule entitled “Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination.” The effect of the order is that CMS must immediately “cease all implementation or enforcement of the [CMS] Rule” in the remaining 40 states not covered by an earlier November 29, 2021, order from a federal judge sitting in Missouri that prevented implementation and enforcement of the CMS rule in only 10 states.
In a 32-page order issued on November 29, 2021, United States District Judge Matthew T. Schelp entered a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) interim final rule entitled “Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination.”
Many hospitals and other healthcare organizations started mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for some or all of their workers over the last six months. Now all of the specified Medicare and Medicaid-certified provider and supplier types that are regulated under the Medicare health and safety standards must get all of their workers fully-vaccinated by January 4, 2022, pursuant to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’s Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination interim final rule.
Healthcare and healthcare-related employers have not just been at the heart of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also recently been on the battleground in the fight over mandatory vaccination. Multiple states and locales have enacted some form of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Many of these vaccination mandates are directed at healthcare workers and state employees. These mandates vary by locality as to where the mandates apply, to whom the mandates apply and in what contexts, and when exemptions apply. And, of course, the federal mandates announced in September 2021 loom in the background.
In order to slow the transmission rate of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of people in Puerto Rico, Governor Pedro Pierluisi recently issued a series of executive orders mandating COVID-19 vaccinations in certain instances.
On August 5, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) adopted a temporary rule on an emergency basis requiring healthcare providers and healthcare staff who work in healthcare settings to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face periodic COVID-19 testing by September 30, 2021.
On August 18, 2021, President Joe Biden announced from the White House that his administration would require nursing homes to vaccinate their staffs against COVID-19 or risk losing Medicaid and Medicare funding. He said that this step was designed to keep people safe amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. He stated: “With this announcement, I’m using the power of the federal government, as a payer of healthcare costs, to ensure we reduce those risks to our most vulnerable seniors.”