Luis Rubiales resigned as the president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) amid controversy over his kissing a women’s national team player without her consent following the team’s 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup win. The situation has sent shockwaves across the sports world and may serve as a reminder for employers in the United States of the persistent dangers of ignoring sexual harassment in the workplace.
University athletic administrators all across the country are welcoming back their athletes for the 2023–2024 athletic season. Athletes and coaches alike will meet with compliance administrators for a refresher on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) bylaws, nutritionists to discuss proper nutrition, and even media relations staff to discuss media obligations. What sometimes can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of college athletics—and the desire to get to the practice field as quickly as possible—is the need to ensure that coaches, administrators, and athletes alike are being trained on proper behavior and reporting mechanisms. Though sitting through multiple presentations may not be as fun as hitting the weight room, a failure to appropriately train athletes, coaches, and administrators may have catastrophic impacts on an institution and individual employees.
March Madness and the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s Division I Basketball Tournaments routinely trigger countless office bracket contests and big distractions for workers. While March Madness can be an opportunity to boost employee engagement and workplace morale, it can also be a point of frustration for employers with the potential for lost productivity. The spread of legalized sports wagering has only added fuel to the potential flame of distraction, and created additional concerns for employers. As the tournament games tip-off, here are some issues employers may want to consider.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its policy guidance related to O-1B nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability in the arts and motion picture or television industry. The updated guidance, effective immediately, is intended to clarify how USCIS evaluates evidence submitted by employers seeking to sponsor foreign national employees under the O-1B visa category.
Anyone who follows professional football is well aware that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a Monday Night Football game on January 2, 2023. The sight was jarring. Despite the fact that football fans know violent contact is one of the game’s most defining characteristics, the sight of a world-class athlete collapsing and not getting back up was unexpected and downright scary. The health and safety of Damar Hamlin became the priority, and the game took a backseat.
On October 25, 2022, U.S. professional basketball player Brittney Griner lost her bid in a Russian appeals court to overturn a nine-year sentence for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into Russia. According to reports, Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested at a Russian airport in February 2022 while attempting to enter the country to play professional basketball with vaporizer cartridges containing less than one gram of hashish oil, a product derived from marijuana. Griner reportedly has a prescription for medical marijuana in Arizona, but marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains illegal in Russia.
A basketball player from the Dominican Republic could be the first prospective National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athlete to secure an O-1 temporary work visa for those with “extraordinary ability” in athletics to allow him to profit from his name, image, and likeness (NIL) while in school. The move comes as brands are looking to sign college athletes under the NCAA’s interim NIL policy, though international athletes have limited ability to do so under student visas.
On October 14, 2022, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Tomás J. Aragόn issued a State Public Health Officer Order further clarifying the definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period” to provide entities and individuals with strategies for working together in a post-COVID-19 workplace.
On September 29, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) No. 1775, which sets workplace safety training and certification standards for companies that produce live events at publicly owned and operated venues.
Some professional baseball teams are beginning to promote “Work From the Ballpark” days, encouraging fans to bring their laptops to a weekday afternoon game and work remotely from their seats. Under such promotions, fans can purchase tickets for a special section of the ballpark with access to WiFi, tables, and food so that they could stay logged on at work while enjoying the sights and sounds of the game. Employers are likely accustomed to dealing with employees who play hooky to attend an afternoon baseball game. But with the rise of remote work—and promotions such as these—should employers be concerned with employees logging into work from the ballpark?
After more than two years of delay and amendment, the District of Columbia’s Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020, which was introduced in the pre-pandemic days of 2020, will finally take legal effect on October 1, 2022. Efforts to amend the 2020 act culminated in the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 (D.C. Act 24-526), which Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law on July 27, 2022.
On August 1, 2022, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, in Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., resolved two outstanding issues in the website accessibility field in a way that limits the reach of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) as part of a growing resistance in the judiciary to an onslaught of website accessibility claims.
The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (commonly known as the Access Board) announced that it intends to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) in August 2022 that would create scoping and technical standards for self-service transaction devices.
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.
For employers wary of the looming implementation of the District of Columbia’s Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020, it appears that the waiting game will continue until at least October 1, 2022. Although March 16, 2021, was the act’s “effective date,” the act’s near-total ban on noncompete agreements will not have true legal effect until the legislation’s “applicability date,” which the Council of the District of Columbia is delaying once again.
On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance, further loosening the rules for wearing COVID-19–related masks in the state. Effective March 1, 2022, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask in indoor public settings, although the CDPH included “a strong recommendation” that all individuals, “regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.”
On February 23, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued an order, effective February 25, 2022, that slightly loosened the rules for wearing COVID-19 masks in the county. One day after the LACDPH order, on February 24, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the interim “Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority” that mirrored the new Los Angeles County order. While these revisions make the orders from both the county and city much more similar to the California state masking rules currently in effect, they remain stricter than the current state rules.
The California Legislature recently introduced Senate Bill (SB) 831, which would increase regulations in, and add gun safety measures to, the motion picture and television industry.
On January 18, 2022, the City of Milwaukee Common Council passed an ordinance that would require masks to be worn indoors until March 1, 2022. The city’s acting mayor has not yet signed the order, but he has signaled that he is likely to do so.
The Government of Ontario announced that starting September 22, 2021, individuals will be required to show proof of fully vaccinated status in order to gain access to certain businesses. While the regulations have not yet been published, the government has released key details concerning the plans.
It has been nearly one full year since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) expanded its campus sexual violence policy, placing additional obligations on member institutions. While many stakeholders were hoping for additional guidance from the NCAA to address some of the questions left unanswered, the only additional communication from the NCAA so far has been to delay the effective date from the 2021-2022 academic year to the 2022-2023 academic year.
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.
On March 2, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. 34 (GA-34), rescinding most of his earlier executive orders related to COVID-19, including the statewide mask mandate and business occupancy restrictions. GA-34 becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 10, 2021.
Just as the calendar was turning to 2021, the Council of the District of Columbia threw District of Columbia employers a late-breaking curveball that most did not see coming. The Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-563) was passed by the Council on December 15, 2020, and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on January 11, 2021. The legislation, which will create a near-total ban on noncompete agreements, took the Washington, D.C., business community by surprise. The final text is substantially broader than the more modest bill that was proposed originally, and the legislation goes well beyond laws enacted in other jurisdictions to curtail the use of post-employment noncompete agreements.
A growing trend among employers that are turning to new and updated methods of fostering employee collegiality and team bonding involves e-sports leagues. Similar to the traditional company softball team, e-sports leagues provide a modern method for employees to form teams that compete at video games against squads of workers from other businesses. This competitive medium has gained in prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic as employers seek innovative ways for employees to interact while observing social distancing precautions. Employers can view these competitive outlets as a means of fostering creativity, building rapport, and developing trust among personnel.