On January 6, 2021, the Québec government announced new COVID-19 restrictions that will take effect from January 9, 2021, through February 8, 2021.
A Pennsylvania district court delivered good news for retailers struggling to balance enforcement of their face mask policies against the rights of customers who assert that their disabilities (or other factors) excuse them from wearing masks.
On September 25, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida’s entry into Phase 3 of its coronavirus pandemic reopening plan and issued Executive Order 20-244.
On August 31, 2020, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued four opinion letters, one of which, Opinion Letter FLSA2020-11, addressed whether certain employees in the oilfield services industry were exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The specific question answered by the DOL in FLSA2020-11 involved truck drivers of an oilfield waste-removal company and the “retail or service establishment” overtime exemption of the FLSA (29 U.S.C. § 207(i), better known as the “Section 7(i) exemption”).
Since March 2020, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, and the county’s acting director of the Department of Public Health (DPH), Dr. Emily Doucette, have issued more than 20 orders and “safe operating guidelines” regarding COVID-19. On July 29, 2020, with an effective date of July 31, 2020, the DPH issued its third amended public health order setting forth its current “Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening.” In some respects, this third amended order is a significant step backwards toward stricter requirements compared with the county’s original reopening guidelines.
Beginning on June 15, 2020, at 8:00 a.m., Delaware will move into the second phase of its three-phase reopening plan following the recent lifting of the state’s stay-at-home order. In Phase 2, retail establishments, restaurants, and other businesses that were previously permitted to reopen at 30 percent of fire occupancy requirements will be allowed to expand to 60 percent of the fire occupancy limits for their premises.
On May 26, 2020, a woman with an alleged respiratory disability filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against a supermarket chain in Pennsylvania after she was denied entry because she could not wear a face mask. This lawsuit marks a growing trend of disability access lawsuits challenging face mask policies.
Oregon employers feeling the financial strain of economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are bracing themselves for another impact. On July 1, 2020, Oregon’s minimum wage increase will take effect.
Despite recently extending a state of emergency due to COVID-19 through June 11, 2020, Maine Governor Janet Mills gave the green light for more businesses to open in all counties on June 1, 2020, as part of the second stage of the governor’s Restarting Maine’s Economy plan.
Effective with the May 19, 2020, publication in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division revokes the arbitrary lists it created in 1961 identifying industries that may, or would not, qualify as retail or service in nature “for purposes of an exemption from overtime pay applicable to commission-based employees.”
There have been several recent and important developments in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic response in the District of Columbia and Maryland that affect employers.
On March 5, 2020, Colorado reported its first cases of coronavirus, which would multiply exponentially over the following weeks. Since then, the state and various municipalities, including Denver, have actively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing a series of orders affecting businesses and their requirements with respect to their employees.
Only one day before Arizona’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order was set to expire, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-33. Governor Ducey announced the modified extension of the stay-at-home order at a press conference on the afternoon of April 29, 2020. Consistent with the previous order, Arizonans must continue limiting their time away from their homes, except for participating in “Essential Activities,” employment in “Essential Functions,” and utilizing services or products of “Essential Businesses.”
On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order No. 04.03.20.01 ordering all Georgia citizens to stay at home, unless they are (1) conducting or participating in “Essential Services;” (2) performing “Necessary Travel;” (3) engaged in the performance of or travel to and from the performance of “Minimum Basic Operations” for a business not classified as “Critical Infrastructure;” or (4) actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, employment for a business classified as “Critical Infrastructure.”
In handing down the first decisions of their kind, a federal district court in New York rejected two plaintiffs’ claims that retailers, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation were required to offer Braille gift cards to visually impaired customers. Although the court gave the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaints, the reasoning of the decisions soundly rejected the theories advanced by a group of plaintiffs and their lawyers in 249 nearly identical cases filed in the fall of 2019.
Retail employers are facing challenges unique to their workforces due to the spread of COVID-19. Retailers must keep abreast of federal laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in addition to guidance from federal agencies on these new laws. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions perplexing retailers confronting issues such as health and safety, unions and employee relations, and employee benefits.
On April 17, 2020, the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force and the Subcommittee to Reopen the Economy released “Reopen Alabama Responsibly,” a detailed report and series of recommendations on resuming business operations during the next stage of the fight against the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.
We first wrote about Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek Employment Standards Ordinance shortly after it was signed into law on December 20, 2018. Now, with the Mayor’s Office of Labor having issued final regulations on February 3, 2020, and the ordinance having taken effect on April 1, 2020, we offer a brief overview of the ordinance along with additional information for retailers as they implement procedures to comply with the ordinance’s provisions. Enforcement of some aspects of the ordinance, such as its good-faith estimates requirement, will not go into effect until July 1, 2020.
While many traditional places of public accommodation, such as theaters, stadiums, restaurants, amusement parks, and retail stores, have shut down their operations in response to “shelter in place” and “social distancing” orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many businesses deemed “essential” by government orders or otherwise continuing operations have adopted sound safety rules designed to keep their employees safe.
On July 24, 2019, the Chicago City Council passed the most sweeping predictive scheduling ordinance in the country to date. Effective July 1, 2020 (January 1, 2021, for “safety-net” hospitals), the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance will require 10 days’ advance notice of work schedules for certain workers in the building services, healthcare, hotel, manufacturing, restaurant, retail, and warehouse services industries.
Among the hardest-to-find workers in America today are restaurant and retail workers. The current labor market is the tightest in 49 years, and for the past year, there have been roughly a million more open positions in the United States than people looking for work. The hospitality sector always has faced recruitment challenges, but the recently shrinking applicant pool has forced employers to look for creative ways to lure workers to jobs in the food service and retail industries.
On May 8, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion holding that salespeople who are paid solely on draws and commissions are entitled to separate and additional overtime and Sunday pay under Massachusetts law. The decision has far-reaching implications for most retailers, which have long relied on opinion letters from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) suggesting that commissioned employees are not entitled to such additional compensation.
In a ruling that will have a significant impact on the retail and restaurant industries, among others in California, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a retail employer’s call-in scheduling policy—in which employees were required to call the employer in advance of a shift to find out if they needed to show up for
Philadelphia enters the predictive scheduling mix with its newly signed Fair Workweek Employment Standards Ordinance, which will become effective January 1, 2020.
Bringing at least temporary relief to hundreds of businesses operating in Arizona, the state’s presiding disciplinary judge entered an order suspending Arizona attorney Peter Strojnik from the practice of law on an indefinite basis.
Many employers, particularly those that employ a significant number of part-time and casual workers, will be quite pleased by the Ontario government’s decision to reverse a controversial part of the amendments to labour and employment legislation that it introduced last year, specifically provisions relating to the calculation of public holiday pay.
On April 25, 2018, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) issued proposed rules implementing Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, Senate Bill 828, which will take effect on July 1, 2018.
On March 1, 2018, the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) issued detailed guidance on the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), which are set to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The amendments, which were enacted in 2016, will overhaul MEPA, a law that has been in effect for over 70 years, and make it one of the strictest pay equity laws in the nation.
The House of Representatives passed a bill on February 15, 2018, that requires Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III plaintiffs to provide businesses with notice and an opportunity to cure any barriers before filing suit. The Senate must also pass a version of the bill before it can be sent to the White House for signing. Senate passage is reported as uncertain.