Employers are facing increasing—and conflicting—pressures over health plan coverage of puberty-blocking medications used to treat some minors for gender dysphoria.
Over the last several years, business-to-business “no-hire” and “no-poach” agreements have come under legal attack, including through enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission and criminal prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice. Even President Biden jumped into the fray on July 9, 2021, when he issued his “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.”
On April 13, 2022, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey approved an act establishing the Alabama Workforce and Wage Gap Task Force. The task force will “identify evidence-based policies to assist lawmakers in implementing laws to close the wage gap” in Alabama by investigating the root causes of pay disparities.
On June 15, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision limiting the reach of the emergency response provisions of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.120, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard—the so-called “HazWoper” (or “HAZWOPER”) standard.
On June 9, 2022, a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided an unpaid intern who participated in a forensic photography training program was not entitled to wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
On March 18, 2022, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Compere v. Nusret Miami, LLC, a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), that Nusr-et Steakhouse properly used automatically charged fees on bills to pay its employees’ wages because the fees were service charges. The plaintiffs, a group of tipped employees, had argued these fees were not service charges but instead were tips. The distinction is critical because service charges and tips are treated very differently under federal laws and regulations.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 9, which restricts Alabama employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. SB 9 directs Alabama employers to “exempt vaccination as a condition of employment for any employee who has completed and submitted [an] exemption form” and “liberally construe [an] employee’s eligibility for an exemption in favor of the employee.”
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.
On November 5, 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 9, restricting Alabama employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. The law took effect immediately.
The issue of the proper application of the highly compensated employee exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as it applies to employees paid on a “day-rate” basis in the oil and gas industry, has been a hotly debated issue in recent years, especially in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
For years, Scott Dinin was one of South Florida’s most prolific filers of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases. His run ended two years ago, when, after obtaining default judgments against two gas stations on behalf of his client, Alexander Johnson, Dinin submitted a request for attorneys’ fees whose billing entries caught the attention of Judge Paul Huck of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
On May 24, 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law Senate Bill 267 (Act No. 2021-493), a measure prohibiting state entities and private businesses from requiring individuals to show proof of vaccination in order to receive goods or services. Following “an increase in legal questions related to … COVID-19 vaccination[s],” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a public notice on July 26, 2021, summarizing Alabama law on vaccination requirements and related matters.
Twenty-two of 27 Republican-led states have announced that they will end enhanced federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits early. Of those, four (Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma) will offer additional monetary incentives for individuals to return to work. To date, no state with a Democratic governor has chosen to opt out of the COVID-19–related enhanced federal unemployment programs.
On May 6, 2021, the Alabama legislature approved a medical marijuana legalization bill. Senate Bill (SB) 46, more commonly known as the Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act, will now go to Governor Kay Ivey for final approval. Governor Ivey has not indicated that she will veto the bill, although a spokesperson for Governor Ivey has stated that she “look[s] forward to thoroughly reviewing it.”
On April 20, 2021, Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed into law a name, image, and likeness (NIL) bill, making Alabama the tenth state to enact such legislation.
States have been busy when it comes to marijuana laws. Before the mid-2010s, employers tended not to worry about state marijuana laws because of marijuana’s illegal status under federal law. However, those days are over, and state marijuana legalization laws continue to affect how employers can run their workplaces.
On April 7, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rendered its long-awaited opinion in Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., reversing a trial court’s decision against Winn-Dixie, holding that websites are not places of public accommodation under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that Winn-Dixie’s website does not violate 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii).
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama recently granted summary judgment to United States Steel Corporation, finding that the company did not deny Raymond Carr III, a former employee with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a reasonable accommodation or constructively discharge him for requesting an accommodation and filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In November 2020, voters in five states (Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota) voted in favor of legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana. Since then, there have been several developments within the marijuana legalization world that employers may want to keep an eye on as they move forward in 2021.
On February 1, 2021, in an unpublished opinion resolving a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) attorney’s fees dispute, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in Batista v. South Florida Womans Health Associates, Inc., struck another blow against unreasonable plaintiffs’ counsel seeking “reasonable” fees.
Elections in the United States are scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Not only will the office of president of the United States be contested, but all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. At the state level, elections will be held for the governorships of 11 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories.
On July 15, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued an amended “Safer at Home” order, adding a facial covering requirement. This facial covering order, which goes into effect on July 16, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., requires (1) facial coverings for individuals; (2) protections for employees; and (3) protections for customers.
On May 8, 2020, Governor Kay Ivey issued an amended Safer at Home order, lifting previous restrictions and providing additional guidance to Alabama businesses. The same day, Governor Ivey issued a separate executive order providing liability protection or immunity to businesses and health care providers.
On April 28. 2020, the City of Birmingham became the first municipality in Alabama to require face coverings in public places within the city. In response to questions from employers regarding the ordinance’s impact on employees, the city issued guidance on May 1, 2020, and updated that guidance on May 5, 2020.
Alabamians are currently under a stay-at-home order that Governor Kay Ivey issued on April 4, 2020,which shut down all non-essential business. On April 28, 2020, Governor Ivey announced at a press conference that she approved a “Safer at Home” order, which goes into effect on Thursday, April 30, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. The order will relax many of the restrictions found in the earlier order and should allow some Alabama employers to put their employees back to work.
On April 21, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey held a press conference that addressed business concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and included an update from the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL). As the governor eyes reopening Alabama’s economy, the disruptions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to cause an unprecedented number of unemployment claims to be filed in the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in critical changes to workforces across the United States. In the state of Alabama, there have been more than 306,000 unemployment claims filed since March 16, 2020. The Alabama Department of Labor has taken steps to respond to the situation, including modifying certain unemployment compensation eligibility requirements to better address the fluid needs of employers and employees during the crisis.
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.
On March 24, 2020, upon the request and recommendation of Mayor Randall Woodfin, the Birmingham, Alabama City Council unanimously adopted a “shelter in place” order, “An Ordinance to Establish a ‘Shelter in Place’ Order for the City of Birmingham During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.”