On June 23, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the “Back to Work” emergency ordinance. The ordinance requires certain San Francisco employers to offer reemployment to covered employees who were subjected to qualifying layoffs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 26, 2020, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued Emergency Order 2020-09 suspending the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption at all businesses that “derive more than 50 [percent] of gross revenue from such sales.” The DBPR issued the order due in part to a spike in the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020, especially among younger people who may have been visiting bars, pubs, and nightclubs where alcohol is served and such establishments failing to comply with orders on occupancy restrictions.
On June 16, 2020, several employees at a McDonald’s franchise in Oakland, California filed a lawsuit against their employer, in a matter entitled Hernandez v. VES McDonald’s (No. RG20064825, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda). The lawsuit consists of five plaintiffs, three of whom are employees who allege that they became sick with COVID-19 while working at the restaurant and “unknowingly” spread the disease to family and other members in their communities.
Significant new requirements for physician noncompete agreements in Indiana took effect on July 1, 2020, including mandatory language allowing a physician to purchase “a complete and final release” from a noncompete agreement “at a reasonable price.” The law also includes several provisions related to notices that employers must provide to patients and doctors when a physician’s employment has terminated or contract expires.
On December 18, 2019, in American Consulting, Inc. d/b/a American Structurepoint, Inc. v. Hannum Wagle & Cline Engineering, Inc., et al., the Indiana Supreme Court provided clarity about when liquidated damages become unenforceable penalties.
On June 24, 2020, in response to the ongoing risk posed by a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in some states, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 205 directing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to issue a travel advisory for all persons entering New York from states with significant rates of transmission of COVID-19. The travel advisory became effective at 12:01 a.m. on June 25, 2020.
In 2015, Louisiana passed a law authorizing the prescription of marijuana for the treatment of certain qualifying medical conditions, such as glaucoma, cancer, and spastic quadriplegia. In 2018, the statutory list of conditions was amended to include post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and chronic pain. In the same amendment, the legislature designated the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to oversee the production of medical marijuana. Since then, employers with operations and employees in Louisiana have been preparing for the new reality of managing marijuana in the workplace. These preparations are set to become even more challenging for Louisiana’s employers in light of new workplace realities and changes to the state’s medical marijuana law set to take effect in August 2020.
On May 19, 2020, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a COVID-19 Paid Supplemental Sick Leave Ordinance. This ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, follows similar measures enacted by Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.
COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, particularly in the Tampa Bay area. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties have enacted ordinances requiring face coverings in most indoor settings where social distancing (of at least six feet between persons) cannot be maintained.
Idaho is offering cash bonuses to employees who return to work as the state lifts COVID-19–related restrictions and businesses reopen. In an effort to incentivize employees who are now earning more money due to the additional benefits provided through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Idaho has implemented a Return to Work Bonuses program.
The Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance took effect in July 2017. The language of each ordinance largely mirrors the other, and where an employer falls under the jurisdiction of both, the Cook County Interpretative and Procedural Rules provide that the Cook County Commission on Human Rights (the enforcement arm of Cook County) will defer to the jurisdiction of the City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (the enforcement arm of the City of Chicago). Effective July 1, 2020, the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance is amended in a significant way.
As most employers are aware, Nevada has a two-tier minimum wage system. Currently, Nevada employers are required to pay their employees a minimum of $8.25 per hour unless they qualify to pay the lower tier minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. Employers seeking to qualify for the lower tier minimum wage must meet the following requirements: (1) the employer must offer qualifying health insurance benefits; (2) those benefits must be offered to the employee and any dependents; (3) the employee’s share of the cost of the premium for health insurance benefits cannot exceed 10 percent of the employee’s income; and (4) the employer must provide a benefit in the form of health insurance at least equivalent to the one dollar per hour in wages that the employee would otherwise receive. Nevada employers that believe they qualify to pay the lower minimum wage should consider reviewing their health insurance benefits to ensure the benefits meet the stringent requirements of Nevada Administrative Code sections 608.102 and 608.104.
On June 26, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-28, immediately scaling back the reopening of Texas due to substantial increases in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations.
As Texas has gradually reopened, the number of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations has dramatically increased. In response to local conditions, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff recently issued Executive Order NW-10, under which all businesses operating in the county must adopt a health and safety policy that requires both employees and customers to wear face coverings.
The California Department of Public Health’s newly issued “Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings” replaces a patchwork of county and municipal standards with a statewide standard mandating face coverings in businesses and other public places.
In a big win for Starbucks and all other restauranteurs, retailers, and places of public accommodation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in three related cases (Johnson v. Starbuck Corp., Lindsay v. Starbucks Corp., and Kong v. Starbucks Corp.) that accessible sales and service counters are not required to provide a minimum of 36 inches of usable counter space for disabled patrons, provided that the counter is no more than 36 inches high.
On June 18, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued a statewide “Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.” Although the guidance is not an executive order and does not refer to any authorizing legal authority, Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted, “NEW: Californians are now REQUIRED to wear face coverings in public spaces” (Emphasis in the original.)
As employers reopen their businesses following closures or reductions in operations required during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are grappling with the fraught and complex task of bringing laid-off or furloughed employees back to the workplace. Among the many issues that such employers will need to deal with in onboarding those employees is whether and to what extent they will need to renew their restrictive covenants agreements with employees who had such agreements before the pandemic.
On June 17, 2020, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued Executive Order NW-10, requiring all businesses operating in the county, which includes San Antonio, to implement a health and safety policy to include the mandated use of face coverings by employees and customers when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.
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.
Conducting business in the Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part blog series will offer tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part five of this series addresses workplace rules, orders, and instructions.
On May 14, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) issued revised draft regulations to accompany the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law. The draft regulations come approximately one year after the DFML published “final” regulations and contain many substantive revisions, likely in response to the numerous public sessions held over the past year.
Like many states, Rhode Island has enacted a statute that governs the use of drug tests in the employment context. Under Rhode Island’s drug-testing statute, R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-6.5-1(a)(1), an employer may require an employee to submit to a drug test only if it has “reasonable grounds to believe based on specific aspects of the employee’s job performance and specific contemporaneous documented observations, concerning the employee’s appearance, behavior or speech that the employee may be under the influence of a controlled substance, which may be impairing his or her ability to perform his or her job.” Until recently, no appellate decision had addressed whether an employer had “reasonable grounds” to ask an employee to take a drug test.
On May 12, 2020, the City of Oakland, California, unanimously passed an emergency paid sick leave ordinance requiring employers to provide up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave for COVID-19 related issues.
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 four of this series addresses COVID-19 guidance for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
In a much-anticipated decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 3, 2020, declined to abandon the requirement that harassing conduct be “severe or pervasive” to be actionable under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).
On June 5, 2020, Governor Tim Walz continued with the phased reopening of Minnesota by issuing Executive Order 20-74. Effective June 10, 2020, this executive order will further loosen restrictions on businesses that are places of public accommodation.
In January of this year, New Jersey enacted a package of laws designed to root out and punish misclassification of employees as independent contractors.