The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.
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.
In a 32-page order issued on November 29, 2021, United States District Judge Matthew T. Schelp entered a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) interim final rule entitled “Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination.”
On November 18, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law measures that immediately prohibit workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private and public employers and begin the process for Florida establishing a state occupational safety and health plan.
On November 15, 2021, the Florida Legislature will convene a five-day special session under the proclamation issued on October 29, 2021, by Governor Ron DeSantis for the “Keep Florida Free” joint legislative agenda.
A recent amendment to child support laws will impose new and potentially onerous requirements on Florida businesses, starting October 1, 2021. The new law removes the current 250-employee threshold for new hire reporting, and, for the first time, requires businesses to report information regarding certain independent contractors.
As of August 8, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has received more than 5,558 whistleblower complaints related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic (and State Plans have received an additional 2,118 complaints). Notably, President Joe Biden has made it clear that OSHA enforcement focused on “violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk [of COVID-19] or are contrary to anti-retaliation principles” is a priority of his administration.
With the onslaught of the pandemic in 2020, many employers were busy dealing with staffing issues, safety concerns, and COVID-19–related legislation. There may have been little to no time to address handbook policies. With many changes on the horizon in 2021 under President Biden’s administration and the adaptations in the working environment due to COVID-19, it may be a good time for employers to turn to the company handbook to ensure it is up to date. This article will highlight five areas to which employers may want to give special attention in 2021.
COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, particularly in the Tampa Bay area. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties have enacted ordinances requiring face coverings in most indoor settings where social distancing (of at least six feet between persons) cannot be maintained.
Employees—particularly healthcare employees—are increasingly refusing to work because of safety concerns and the need for accommodations related to COVID-19. In certain circumstances, these refusals may trigger protections afforded by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), among others.
On March 17 and 20, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Orders 20-68 and 20-71, announcing unprecedented state-wide closures of bars and nightclubs, restaurants for on-site dining, and stand-alone gyms. Since then, additional counties and municipalities in Florida have enacted more stringent measures attempting to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Florida’s 2020 legislative session convened today in Tallahassee. This session will be one to watch, as over 20 workplace-related bills have already been filed, covering such topics as discrimination and retaliation, minimum wage and overtime pay, pre-employment verification and background screening, reemployment assistance, tax credits and refunds, job relocation, job protections for medical marijuana users, paid family leave, and heat illness prevention.
On November 21, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution (HR) 1309, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, in a 251-158 vote.
The Florida Legislature concluded its annual legislative session on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Over 20 employment-related bills were introduced, covering subjects such as E-Verify, criminal background screening, discrimination and harassment, sexual misconduct reporting in health care, local regulation of employment conditions, minimum wage, vaping, paid leave, internship tax credits, restraints of trade or commerce (noncompete agreements), drug-free workplaces, and unemployment compensation claims. Although only two of these bills survived, many of the bills that did not pass could resurface and impact employers in the near future.
On February 27, 2019, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on House Resolution 1309, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, introduced by Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT).
How long has it been since your organization updated its employee handbook? It’s time to brush off any layers of dust that have accumulated over the years and make it a priority to conduct a review prior to the year’s end.
On November 16, 2018, Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced House Resolution 7141, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.
On July 9, 2018, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine published a study in a peer-reviewed medical journal indicating that “[p]hysician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) authorizes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct inspections at worksites within its jurisdiction to enforce the safety and health laws promulgated pursuant to the OSH Act.
On November 8, 2016, voters in several states passed medical or recreational marijuana measures each of which will likely impact employers. As this area of law is developing quickly, and since the Trump administration’s position on marijuana is unclear, employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws as well as watch for new developments.
On January 13, 2015, a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida discovered that an unidentified juvenile had been walking its halls dressed as a physician, wearing a lab coat with the hospital’s logo and a stethoscope. According to the Sun Sentinel, a patient reportedly told the hospital’s OB/GYN offices that…..