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.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s COVID-19 ETS Proposal Provisions

On September 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will continue the long and arduous journey to establish COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace. Since the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) initial ETS took effect in November 2020, the Standards Board has addressed the evolving workplace safety challenges with a series of updates.

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).

Business Necessity of COVID-19 Screening Testing No Longer Presumed Under EEOC Guidance

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the position that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard for conducting medical examinations (job-related and consistent with business necessity) was always met for COVID-19 viral screening testing. On July 12, 2022, the EEOC updated its position in light of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s Draft COVID-19 Prevention Regulation Scheduled to Take Effect January 1, 2023

On May 6, 2022, the State of California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) adopted the third revision of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS), which is effective through December 31, 2022. On June 16, 2022, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board released its COVID-19 draft regulation, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023.

COVID-19–Driven Layoffs Are Not a ‘Natural Disaster’ Under WARN Act, Fifth Circuit Rules

In the first ruling from a federal appellate court examining COVID-19–related layoffs and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Easom v. US Well Services, Inc., No. 21-20202 (June 15, 2022), that a mass layoff resulting in part from the economic impact of COVID-19 did not qualify for the “natural disaster” exemption to the WARN Act’s sixty-day notice requirement for mass layoffs. The court also held that for an employer to rely on the exemption, the mass layoff (or plant closing) must be the “direct result” of the natural disaster. This is an important ruling for employers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

California Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 Guidance on Expanded Definition of ‘Close Contact’

On June 20, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued COVID-19 guidance, titled “Isolation and Quarantine Q&A,” that offers insight into the recent change to the definition of “close contact.” On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period.” Because the June 8 order was an “order of the CDPH,” these revised definitions were immediately incorporated into the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impacted employers’ obligations under the ETS.

CDPH Issues Updated Order Drastically Changing Employers’ Obligations Under Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS

Currently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to review and use current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for persons who had close contact to an individual with COVID-19, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures after a close contact to reduce COVID-19 transmission. On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions. These revised definitions are therefore immediately incorporated in to the Cal/OSHA ETS requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impact employers’ obligations under the ETS.

Canadian Government Suspends Vaccination Mandate for Domestic Travel and Federal Workers

On June 14, 2022, the Government of Canada announced that it would suspend vaccination requirements for domestic travelers, certain federally regulated workers, and federal public service employees, effective June 20, 2022. In support of this measure, the government has cited the successful vaccination campaign and low COVID-19 case counts.

Ontario Appellate Court Ruling Leaves Employers Waiting for Determination on Interpretation of COVID-19 Leave Provisions

Employers in Ontario have been waiting for clarification on the interpretation of COVID-19 leave provisions throughout much of the pandemic. Employers had hoped that the Court of Appeal’s decision in Taylor v Hanley Hospitality Inc. would provide clarity on the implications of Employment Standards Act, 2000 infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) on an employee’s employment status.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for April–May 2022

Mexico’s federal government will soon cease updating its COVID-19 pandemic monitoring system on a biweekly basis, Dr. Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s undersecretary of prevention and health promotion, said in a recent press conference. The announcement comes on the heels of the four-tiered system showing all thirty-two states in green status—the only status without restrictions on business and social activities—for the second period in a row.

Cal/OSHA Updates COVID-19 ETS FAQs and Issues Fact Sheet for California Employers

On May 7, 2022, the day after the latest revision to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) went into effect, Cal/OSHA issued updated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a fact sheet. The FAQs continue to evolve and change with each revision and readoption of the ETS. The FAQs now reflect the updated definitions, processes, and changes to the quarantine requirements for close contacts.

Cal/OSHA’s Third Revision to COVID-19 ETS to Be Approved by May 6, 2022

As we previously reported, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently voted to adopt the proposed revisions to California’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). Reports initially stated that the Office of Administrative Law would likely approve the language for implementation by May 5, 2022. This date has since changed to May 6, 2022.

Cal/OSHA Approves Third COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently approved the third readoption of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to take effect on May 7, 2022. This ETS will be in effect until December 31, 2022, as the final update to the ETS. The changes mark the continued evolution of the regulations, with modifications and adjustments to definitions, testing protocols, disinfection and sanitizing, close contact rules, return-to-work procedures, and outbreak policies.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Adopts Third COVID-19 ETS to Remain in Effect Until December 31, 2022

On April 21, 2022, by a 6-1 vote, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt the proposed revisions to the current COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). The only no vote was from a management representative. The Office of Administrative Law is likely to approve the new language for implementation by May 5, 2022.

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.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for March 21–April 3, 2022

For the first time since Mexico’s federal government rolled out its pandemic monitoring system in June 2020, all of the nation’s thirty-two states have been given the green light to conduct social and business activities without restriction, although face masks are still required while using public transportation.

New York City Private Employer Vaccination Mandate Remains, but Exemptions Expanded for Athletes and Performing Artists

On March 24, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Emergency Executive Order No. 62, which expands an exemption to New York’s vaccination order for private-sector workers to include athletes and performing artists who reside in New York City. The executive order takes effect immediately.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Traffic Light Monitoring System: News for March 7–20, 2022

Mexico’s federal government has indicated that the National Health Council will soon decree the end of the pandemic in Mexico. The expected announcement comes on the heels of signs that COVID-19 cases are significantly waning, with community transmission levels low enough for the government to designate all but one of Mexico’s thirty-two states in green status under the biweekly pandemic monitoring system.