Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Standard and Its New Mandatory COVID-19 Paid Time Off Provision

On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, the standards-setting agency of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), adopted an emergency standard regarding COVID-19 workplace prevention. The Standards Board submitted the new final rule to the Office of Administrative Law, which may approve the rule within as few as 10 days. This means employers may have to comply with the emergency standard as soon as Monday, November 30, 2020.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Arriving For the Holidays: What Employers Need to Know and Can Do

As we discussed in a previous post, employers have already been planning for the arrival of a vaccine—and for good reason given the array of issues to consider when implementing vaccination-related policies. Although mandatory vaccination policies are legal (possibly subject to two limited categories of exemptions and variations in state laws), implementing such policies may prove challenging, at least in the near term.

Travel to Canada During a Global Pandemic: a Welcome Break in Quarantine Requirements in Alberta

On March 16, 2020, Canada announced that it would be closing its borders to international travelers but for a few exceptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days later, Canada and the United States mutually agreed to temporarily restrict all nonessential travel across the U.S.-Canada land border. The travel restrictions are still currently in force at the date of publication of this article.

Ohio Issues COVID-19 Restrictions on Retailers

On November 13, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health Lance Himes issued a new director’s order enhancing face covering requirements for Ohio retailers, adding mandatory oversight obligations for employers, and providing greater enforcement power for local health departments and law enforcement.

New Measures in Oregon Decriminalize Certain Narcotics and Legalize Psilocybin Therapy

Oregon voters approved two groundbreaking measures in the 2020 election season to become the first state in the nation to decriminalize personal possession of small amounts of certain controlled substances (Measure 110) and legalize the therapeutic usage of psilocybin in a controlled therapy setting (Measure 109). Many employers may be wondering what these measures mean and how their workplaces and existing employment policies might be impacted.

Maryland’s November 2020 COVID-19 Update: A Primer on Two Recent Directives

For several months, health officials have cautioned the public that the rate of positive cases of COVID-19 would spike as temperatures turned colder. In recent days, it has become clear that cases in Maryland have risen exponentially. Maryland’s government has responded to the rising caseload by issuing two recent directives designed to combat and slow the resurgence of the virus.

D.C. Council’s ‘Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2019’—Not Dead Yet?

Despite its well-deserved reputation as an employee-friendly jurisdiction, the District of Columbia is absent from the list of “blue states” that have adopted legislation limiting the use of noncompete agreements. Over the last few years, states such as Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington have enacted such laws.

Recent Texas Court Decision Highlights the Risks of Defamation in Internal Misconduct Investigations

Employers understand they have an obligation to investigate complaints of workplace misconduct. However, communications made during internal investigations are not totally without risk. Reports of misconduct, such as theft, assault, or abuse of others, can raise the scepter of defamation claims if the employer does not properly manage the communications. Further, while a qualified privilege exists for potentially defamatory statements made during misconduct investigations, such privilege is not absolute and can be lost.

Public Charge Rule Survives (For Now)

On November 3, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit temporarily stayed an order that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued in Cook County, Illinois, et al. v. Wolf et al., No. 19-cv-6334 (November 2, 2020). The district court’s order had vacated the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (often referred to as the “public charge rule”) on a nationwide basis.

5 Key Executive Compensation Trends and Issues for 2021

The 2021 executive compensation season will be more challenging than usual for most companies due to the financial and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet these challenges, companies should be aware of several key issues relating to executive compensation as they design their 2021 executive compensation programs.

Marijuana Ballot Initiatives Approved in Five States: What This Budding Trend Means for Employers

On November 3, 2020, five states had initiatives on the ballot to legalize the recreational and/or medical use of marijuana, and all five initiatives easily passed. Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey voted in favor of legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years and older. In addition, South Dakota became the first state to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana at the same time. Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana. Employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws, as well as watch for new developments.

Sixth Circuit Backs Termination of Public Employee for Racially Derogatory Social Media Post on 2016 Presidential Election

On October 6, 2020, in Bennett v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, No. 19-5818, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s decision in favor of a public employee who claimed that the city had terminated her employment in retaliation for exercising her rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Colorado Voters Pass the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act

On November 3, 2020, Colorado voters passed Proposition 118, a ballot initiative establishing a paid family and medical leave program. The new law, known as the “Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act,” provides for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees in a 50/50 split.

DHS Proposes Shift to Wage-Based H-1B Selection Process

On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule that, if implemented, would amend the process by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B registrations for H-1B cap-subject petitions. The proposed rule would replace the current H-1B random selection lottery process with a wage-based selection process, giving preference to applications for higher-paying positions.