20 Tips for U.S. Virgin Islands Employers in 2020: Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, and Nightclubs; Travel Requirements; and Reinstatement of Plant Closing Act

Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part seven of this series addresses several provisions of  U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.’s July 1, 2020, ninth supplemental executive order extending the state of emergency due to COVID-19 that he initially declared on March 13, 2020.

Employers Beware: COVID-19–Related Employment Lawsuits Are Heating Up

For the last several months, employers have been forced to learn how COVID-19 spreads, how to maintain or resume safe work environments, and how to navigate a complex web of new and existing laws and regulations implicated by the pandemic. Employers have also had to contend with a growing wave of COVID-19–related employment litigation.

Unemployment Assistance and the CARES Act: Minimizing Liability for Withdrawing Job Offers

Employers across the country are making difficult decisions due to the COVID-19 crisis. The economic downturn has affected current employees in a number of ways, including reduced pay, reduced work hours, furloughs, and even permanent reductions in force. To help keep their businesses afloat, employers also must make the difficult decision to withdraw job offers that have been extended to future employees, such as summer interns, coop students, and college graduates.

California Offers Some Clarity Regarding Revised Notice Requirements Under Cal-WARN

On March 23, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued “Guidance on [the] Conditional Suspension of California WARN Act Notice Requirements under Executive Order N-31-20.” The DIR provided guidance to further clarify Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-31-20 (March 17, 2020), which temporarily suspended Cal-WARN’s typical 60-day notice requirement for layoffs or business closures. The guidance may assist employers in understanding their Cal-WARN obligations when faced with making temporary or permanent staffing reductions (or relocations) as a result of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts.

Leave in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and economic cataclysm, and few employers have been able to escape its impact on their business operations and employees. In their efforts to better manage their workforces during this period of extreme economic instability, many employers are turning to unpaid leaves of absences and furloughs as a way to scale back on costs temporarily while maintaining a connection to employees whose help will be critical to restarting normal business operations (whenever that may be). However, at a time when access to health care and financial support for impacted employees is more important than ever, indefinite unpaid leaves or absence and furloughs can present complex administrative issues for many common employee benefit plans. In the discussion that follows, we highlight some of the more important employee benefits issues to consider when employees are placed on unpaid leaves of absence or furloughs.

You Need to Cut Costs, but Don’t Want a RIF: Alternatives to Terminations in the Age of COVID-19

During this season of COVID-19, in which the duration of the crisis is unknown, employers across the country are seeking to implement cost-cutting measures which avoid full-blown reductions in force (RIFs). Many employers are opting instead for cost-saving measures that are designed to be temporary and reversible placeholders in the event the economy snaps back sooner rather than later. Employers have several tools in their toolkits.

Keeping Up With New Jersey Employment Law Developments

It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.

New Jersey Enacts New Employer Requirements for Mass Terminations or Layoffs

On January 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3170, which expands New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (New Jersey WARN Act) well beyond the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 19, 2020, and will make New Jersey the first state to guarantee payment of severance to employees affected by mass layoffs.

Please Release Me: New California Civil Code Section 1542 Release Language Effective January 1, 2019

Given the litigious environment in California, employers operating in the state are in great need of enforceable general release terms in severance and settlement agreements. California employers entering into severance or settlement agreements will want to be aware of the amendment to California Civil Code Section 1542.

Parent Company Liability in French Redundancy Cases

Although the Cour de cassation (France’s Supreme Court) still limits the application of the concept of “co-employment” between parent companies and their subsidiaries to exceptional cases, its rulings do not preclude a finding of liability on the part of a parent company when it has placed its subsidiary in increased difficulty.