In a pair of related rulings in Hayes v. University Health Shreveport, LLC, and Nelson v. Ochsner Lafayette General, the Supreme Court of Louisiana held on January 7, 2022, that private Louisiana employers may mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.
New Orleans has revived its mask mandate for indoor spaces, effective January 12, 2022. Citing increased COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, Mayor Latoya Cantrell has ordered that all individuals over the age of two who do not have breathing complications must wear masks “when in indoor spaces outside the household, unless actively eating or drinking.”
Effective August 1, 2021, the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law was amended to expressly require Louisiana employers with more than 25 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with limitations arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, provided that such limitations are known to the employers.
Mask mandates, with certain exceptions, are ending in Louisiana. This week, Louisiana’s governor lifted the statewide mandate, which allowed cities to impose their own mandates. New Orleans’ mandate, which has been in effect since July 2021, is also now ending.
On June 10, 2021, the Louisiana State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) No. 379, a measure that provides for civil liability for injuries caused to individuals who have experienced sexual assault in the workplace, as defined by criminal statutes.
On August 12, 2021, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the City of New Orleans Health Department announced updated Guidelines for COVID-19 Reopening, which require individuals to provide proof of “having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine” or “evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before entry” in order to access certain indoor establishments.
On August 1, 2021, Louisiana stopped paying the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit payment provided by federal law. Prior to the elimination of the benefit, six Louisiana residents sued the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Governor John Bel Edwards to compel the restoration of the $300 weekly benefit payment.
On June 9, 2021, the Louisiana State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) No. 707, a measure that prohibits discrimination in employment based on criminal history records and that provides criteria for employers making hiring decisions in conjunction with criminal history records. This development will likely be good news for formerly arrested or incarcerated applicants reentering the workplace.
Louisiana has become the first state with a Democratic governor to pass a law eliminating the $300-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit created by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Under the new measure, Act No. 276, which Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law on June 15, 2021, Louisiana eliminated the $300 benefit, effective August 1, 2021, while increasing the weekly maximum benefit amount.
On August 2, 2021, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued Proclamation Number 137 JBE 2021, reinstating a statewide mask mandate that requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks “when indoors, in any place outside of a private residence.”
Recently, the Louisiana Court of Appeal, First Circuit, in Thompson v. Cenac Towing Co., L.L.C., analyzed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in a company’s favor after a noose-like rope was found hanging in a maritime workplace and held that the trial court had improperly weighed the credibility of the plaintiff’s testimony, resulting in the reversal and remand of the case.
The recent decided case of Duplessis Buick-GMC Truck, Inc. v. Chauncey offers Louisiana employers a powerful cause of action against highly trusted former employees for breach of fiduciary duty—one that is akin to an action to enforce noncompete agreements or trade secret laws but without statutory constraints.
On December 22, 2020, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed into law the CROWN Act (Calendar No. 33,184). The new law prohibits employment discrimination in the City of New Orleans based on hairstyles. The law is modeled after federal legislation introduced in January 2020—the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act)—designed to correct racial and cultural inequities by making hair discrimination illegal in the United States.
The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently held in Derbonne v. State Police Commission, No. 2019 CA 1455 (October 14, 2020), that an employee whose duties require that he or she report violations of state law is not precluded from pursuing a claim for unlawful reprisal under Louisiana’s anti-reprisal or whistleblower statute, La. R.S. 23:967.
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.
The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal recently held that a noncompetition provision under La. R.S 23:921 affecting a former member of an accounting limited liability company (LLC) could be reformed when the scope of the defined business and geographic limitation was overly broad.
On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that state wage and hour laws do not apply to offshore drilling workers where federal law addresses the relevant issue. In Parker Drilling Management Services v. Newton, No. 18-389, the Supreme Court answered the question of whether California’s laws governing the minimum wage and payment for “standby time” applied to workers on oil rigs in federal waters off the coast of California.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently held that a group of directional driller consultants were independent contractors, not employees, in large part due to their highly specialized skills, degree of control over their own projects, and ability to control their profits and analyzed losses.
When Jay Baker, the vice president of Causin, L.L.C., quit to create a competing business, Causin sued to enforce Baker’s nonsolicitation/noncompetition agreement. Baker defended the claim in part by arguing the agreement’s use of a flexible addendum to list numerous parishes/counties did not satisfy the requirements of Louisiana’s noncompetition statute (La. R.S. 23:921), the inclusion of Causin’s “subsidiaries” and “affiliates” rendered the agreement overbroad, and the severability clause was ineffective.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a New Orleans charter school was not a “political subdivision” exempt from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Plaintiffs have attempted a number of creative avenues to avoid the procedural and substantive limitations set forth under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL), which provides a statutory scheme to address employment discrimination.
Less than a year after the #MeToo movement began in earnest, it continues to impact boardrooms and statehouses. In May of 2018, Louisiana became the latest state to take action in support of the #MeToo movement, with its lawmakers unanimously approving a statewide anti-sexual harassment policy—though they limited the law to state agencies and their employees for the time being.
The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently ruled that the statute of limitations under Louisiana’s anti-discrimination law is only tolled during the pendency of an administrative or investigative review, not to exceed 18 months.
On March 23, 2018, in a 4–3 decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to consider Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’s appeal of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal’s November 1, 2017, decision holding that Governor Edwards lacked the constitutional authority to issue an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) state employees from discrimination.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s grant of summary judgment under the Louisiana whistleblower law, Louisiana Revised Statutes section 23:967, in favor of an employer that transferred an employee to a less desirable location after revealing concerns about her employer’s handling of a diabetic student.
The Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has held that painters may be treated as independent contractors if they bring some of their own tools, control their own schedules, and make decisions on how to complete the work for which they have been hired.
On December 1, 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) appealed a state appellate court decision holding that Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which seeks to protect the rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender individuals, and other protected classes from discrimination by Louisiana agencies, departments and contractors was unconstitutional.
Workplace harassment is one of the many problems that Louisiana employers may encounter. The national media has recently published several stories concerning high-profile cases of sexual predation and harassment. In addition, stories have surfaced in Southeast Louisiana of allegedly rampant sexual harassment at a New Orleans-based restaurant group.
In April of 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which sought to protect lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals, among other protected classes, from discrimination practiced by state contractors. Months later, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and others challenged the order in a lawsuit filed in East Baton Rouge Parish that sought a permanent injunction, as well as a declaratory judgment that the executive order violated state law.
Answering a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the term “good faith,” as used in the whistleblower section of the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act (LEQA), refers to “an employee … acting with an honest belief that a violation of an environmental law, rule, or regulation occurred.” The case is particularly instructive because the phrase “good faith” is used in Louisiana’s general anti-reprisal statute.