Twisting Arms to Get Jabbed, White House Says: ‘Vaccination Incentives All Around!’

On April 21, 2021, in a further push to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for those individuals who have been hesitant, the White House issued a fact sheet titled, “President Biden to Call on All Employers to Provide Paid Time Off for Employees to Get Vaccinated After Meeting Goal of 200 Million Shots in the First 100 Days.” This announcement further signals the administration’s dedication to vaccinating the U.S. population and its willingness to offer incentives to employers that support their employees in becoming vaccinated. Employers that have remained neutral on this issue could be persuaded to “take up arms” and join the fight against COVID-19.

Goodbye COVID-19 Priority Phases and Tiers, Hello Battles With Vaccine Passports!

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, while touring a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, President Joe Biden imposed a deadline on every state to open up vaccination eligibility to all adults by April 19, 2021 (moving up the previous target date of May 1, 2021). The White House COVID-19 coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, told governors also on April 6, 2021, that more than 28 million doses of vaccines will be delivered to all of the states the week of April 4-12, 2021. The president’s directive matches Dr. Anthony Fauci’s estimate in November 2020 that the earliest a vaccine would be available for most nonprioritized Americans would be April 2021.

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.

Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination: Is It Legal and Is It Right for Your Workplace?

By all accounts, the availability of a vaccine for COVID-19 is a matter of when, not if. According to the World Health Organization, as of August 25, 2020, 173 potential vaccines are currently being developed in labs across the world, 31 of which have advanced to clinical stage testing on humans. Drug manufacturers estimate that a vaccine will be ready and approved for general use by the end of this year or early 2021.

Missouri Tightens the Leash on Fake Fidos

On July 14, 2020, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill (SB) 644, increasing the potential penalties imposed on Missourians and visitors who attempt to pass off their pets as bona fide service dogs. While Missouri law previously made it a crime to impersonate an individual with a disability, now the misrepresentation of a dog as a valid and properly trained service animal is also a crime.

Missouri Limits Punitive Damages in Workplace Lawsuits

On July 1, 2020, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill (SB) 591, which modifies various provisions relating to civil actions. Notably, for Missouri employers, the bill modifies and restricts the way punitive damages are considered in lawsuits brought by current or former employees who allege intentional harm by an agent of the employer (e.g., a manager, supervisor, or HR professional).

Let the Masking Debate Continue, but Maybe Not in Our Hospitals

In 2015, long before COVID-19 emerged, a hospital disciplined and discharged a recruiter in its HR department who refused to obtain a hospital-required influenza vaccination or to don a mask at work as an alternative. In a case we started to track three years ago, a federal judge entered summary judgment for the employer this week.

DOL Gives Credit to Unpaid Student Interns After Getting Schooled by the Courts

Over the last few years, several federal courts—and, most recently last month, another appellate court—rejected the Obama administration’s mandatory six-prong test for whether someone can properly be classified as an unpaid intern under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). On January 5, 2018, the Trump administration issued an overhauled Fact Sheet #71, which formerly adopts a more flexible “primary beneficiary/economic reality” test.

Missouri Supreme Court Punts Two Lawsuits in a Row, on Direct Flights to Arbitration

Arbitration agreements have faced tackles and turbulence in a series of cases litigated in Missouri courts over the past few years. In the fall of 2017, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued two favorable arbitration agreement decisions: one involved an aviation school, the other arose from a training facility lease with the Rams football team, which has since left Missouri for California and was previously involved in a different arbitration-related case in Missouri.

Missouri Governor Greitens Signs Bill Amending MHRA, Bringing State Law More Into Line With Federal Law

On June 30, 2017, Governor Greitens signed a bill which makes sweeping reforms to the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA is the state of Missouri’s primary anti-discrimination statute. The MHRA codifies for the state many of the federal anti-discrimination provisions found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Missouri Human Rights Act—The Playing Field Has Been Leveled

The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) is the state of Missouri’s primary anti-discrimination statute. The MHRA codifies for the state many of the federal anti-discrimination provisions found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On May 8, 2017, the Missouri House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 43 (SB 43). The bill, which significantly modifies the MHRA and also codifies and limits workplace “whistleblower” liability, is now on the desk of newly-elected Governor Eric Greitens, who is expected to sign the legislation.

Can Fido Come to Work? EEOC Files Suit to Require Emotional Support Dog on Truck Route

It’s true. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking the position that an emotional support animal may be a required reasonable accommodation in the workplace.  In January, we explained that federal (and most states’) public accommodation laws do not require businesses and organizations to accommodate disabled individuals with regard to their requested use of emotional support dogs or other animals. Some state laws and city ordinances even make it a crime to try to pass off an emotional support dog or pet as a legally-protected, disability-related service animal.

Fido Can’t Help Ring in the New Year (Unless He’s a True Service Animal)

Individuals wishing to begin the new year by taking a beloved pet or emotional support animal out to a restaurant may run into new legal deterrents in some states. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entitles people with disabilities to bring “service animals” into public places such as restaurants and stores, many individuals do not realize which animals the law covers.

“Deaf Culture” Expert to Testify at Trial? Judge Allows EEOC to Test the Limits

In the last couple of years, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has prosecuted at least 12 lawsuits on behalf of deaf or hard-of-hearing employees or job applicants. And, within the last 10 years, the U.S. Department of Justice has litigated and/or settled close to 40 cases involving the failure to adequately accommodate deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals under Titles II or III of the ADA. A jury trial in one such case brought by the EEOC started this week in Sacramento, California. The case includes a claim that, while the employer previously provided an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for the employee at certain times during the workday, a new manager provided only “fingerspelling” (i.e., the actual spelling of words, letter by letter) instead of ASL for communication.

Another One Bites The Dust: Missouri Court Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Agreement Due to Unilateral and Retroactive Modification Clause

Arbitration agreements have been a roller coaster for Missouri employers. Recently, in State ex rel. Hewitt v. Kerr, the Missouri Supreme Court enforced such an agreement, sending an employee’s discrimination lawsuit to arbitration. But overall, courts in Missouri have restricted the enforceability of arbitration agreements entered into between employees and employers. This month, the Missouri Court of Appeals continued that trend in Bowers v. Asbury St. Louis Lex, LLC, No. ED102229 (July 7, 2015). In Bowers, the court analyzed an arbitration agreement, which included a clause that purportedly allowed the employer to modify the agreement unilaterally and retroactively.

Work for Free and Maybe Meet a Celebrity? Probably Not a Lawful Internship!

Unfortunately, it may be too late for some employers that have already begun their summer internship programs, but for-profit, private sector employers should be aware that they face a steep barrier when trying to establish lawful, unpaid internships. Although not-for-profit organizations have relaxed requirements when accepting the unpaid services of…..