Social Media Posts During Turbulent Times: FAQs on Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities

Many people have commented on social media regarding the anti-racist movement that has been gaining strength in the wake of police officers killings around the country. Unfortunately, some of these posts are inflammatory, derogatory, offensive, or racist. Even though employees are generally posting on their personal social media pages and are often doing so outside of work time, coworkers and even community-members to employers are increasingly complaining about offensive comments employees are posting on various social media platforms. While sometimes the conduct is so severe that employers can easily determine the appropriate consequences, in other cases employers must balance a variety of legal requirements, employee and public relations concerns, and their own company values. The following are answers to frequently asked questions about these issues.

Recognizing Juneteenth and Strengthening Company Culture: Tips for Employers

Several prominent companies across the nation recently announced that they would observe Juneteenth as a holiday. This new trend of observing Juneteenth comes in the wake of several weeks of protests across the world advocating for an end to racial injustice and police brutality. These protests have generated discourse across the country, including in workplaces, about systemic racism and what actions we all can take to address the issues. Although Juneteenth is not a new holiday, recognizing and observing the holiday is one of many proactive measures that employers can take to demonstrate their commitment to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces and to promoting racial justice.

Reopening Texas: Governor Abbott Expands the List of Covered Services

On May 26, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation expanding the list of “Covered Services” permitted to reopen in Texas. The proclamation is consistent with Executive Order GA-23, which “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”

Reopening Texas: Governor Abbott Issues Phase II Executive Order

On May 18, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-23 as part of his three-phase plan to reopen the economy in Texas. The three-phase plan is outlined in a report entitled “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Executive Order GA-23 is Phase II of the plan and follows Executive Order GA-18 (issued April 27, 2020) and Executive Order GA-21 (issued May 5, 2020). Executive Order GA-23 “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC.”

Texas Workforce Commission Provides Form for Employers to Report Employee Reemployment Offer Refusals

On April 30, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) issued guidance identifying the circumstances in which an employee may remain eligible for the receipt of unemployment benefits despite the employee’s refusal of an offer to return to work. These circumstances included, for example, an individual being considered high risk due to his or her age (65 or older) or being diagnosed with COVID-19 and not having recovered.

Reopening Texas: Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders

Texas has joined the growing number of states that have begun to reopen businesses following weeks of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Greg Abbott rolled out a three-phase plan to reopen the economy in conjunction with a report entitled “Texas Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Additionally, over the last few days, Governor Abbott issued a series of executive orders regarding phase two of the plan.

Texas Workforce Commission Issues Guidance on Unemployment Claims of Individuals Who Refuse to Return to Work

As Texas begins to reopen, some employers are recalling employees placed on temporary leaves of absence or furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Invariably, a number of employees will ignore recall attempts or refuse offers to return to work. Depending upon the reason for refusal, these employees may remain eligible for the receipt of unemployment benefits, according to guidance issued by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) on April 30, 2020.

No April Fools: FFCRA Went Into Effect and the DOL Issued Regulations

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020, and, just in time, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued temporary regulations to implement the new provisions of the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). The regulations largely align with the DOL’s updated “Questions and Answers” (Q&As) that it issued on March 28, 2020. The DOL’s Q&As addressed furloughs, intermittent leave, exceptions for very small businesses,  exemptions for health care providers, telework, among other aspects of the law.

DOL Releases Additional Paid Leave Guidance Regarding Closures, Furloughs, and Reduced Hours

On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of “Questions and Answers” (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning the impact of workplace closures and furloughs upon employers’ obligations to provide paid leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: DOL Releases Updated Guidance on Telework and Intermittent Leave

On March 28, 2020, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of questions and answers (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning teleworking arrangements (Q&As 17–20) and intermittent leave (Q&As 21 and 22) under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), both of which are included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The FFCRA: DOL Releases Additional Guidance Regarding the Small Business Exemption

On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of Questions and Answers (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning how employers may take advantage of the small business exemption under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). The small business exemption is addressed in questions 4 and 58-59).

The FFCRA: DOL Releases Updated Guidance on Exempt Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders

On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of “Questions and Answers” (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning health care providers and emergency responders (question numbers 55, 56, and 57). The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EMFLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) authorize the DOL to issue regulations to exempt health care providers and emergency responders from eligibility for coverage under the FFCRA.

DOL Releases Field Assistance Guidance for Temporary Nonenforcement Period and FFCRA Notices for Employers

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) announced the issuance of additional guidance related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The guidance includes “Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-1: Temporary Non-Enforcement Period Applicable to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act” and model notices “for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Department of Labor Releases Preliminary Guidance for Employers and Employees

On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division issued preliminary guidance for employers and employees concerning the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). Both laws are part of larger Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) enacted on March 18, 2020.