The US Department of Labor is developing a new regulation on joint employment under the FLSA, a possible first step towards reversing the Trump administration’s business-friendly rule on the joint employer standard.

First Public Notice of Possible New Regulation

On February 23, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) posted on its

The DOL’s just-issued final rule on employee vs. independent contractor classifications under the FLSA seems likely to be reversed. On January 20, the White House issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies ordering them to halt all non-emergency rulemaking and regulatory activity issued under the previous administration pending review by

President Biden did not waste any time after taking office on January 20, 2021. Shortly after the Presidential Oath of Office was administered, Biden signed 17 executive actions, which either impact the workplace or provide insight into what may be forthcoming under the new administration for employers.

A Flurry of Executive Orders on Day One

Biden issued a memorandum to agencies to freeze all last-minute regulations put in motion by the prior administration as President Trump was leaving office. Notably, these regulatory “freeze memos” are not uncommon for incoming administrations to issue. This pause on the prior administration’s last-minute regulations will give the Biden administration the opportunity to evaluate the so-called “midnight regulations” and determine if they will become final, be amended, or rescinded altogether.

He also issued an Executive Order reinforcing that Title VII prohibits the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Order references the recent Supreme Court case of Bostock v. Clayton County (blogged about here). Specifically, the Order states “[i]t is the policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.” The Order notes that laws that prohibit sex discrimination (specifically referencing Title IX, the Fair Housing Act, and section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act) also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.


Continue Reading Biden and the Workplace: Early Days, Major Changes

Businesses engaging independent contractors have new guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL) for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor, but the guidance may never take effect. On January 6, 2021, the DOL issued a final rule for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor. The rule focuses on whether workers are economically dependent on another business–making them more likely to be an employee of that business, and entitled to the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)–or are economically dependent upon themselves, making them true independent contractors.

Continue Reading DOL Announces Final Rule for FLSA Worker Classification Focused on Economic Dependence-But Its Future is Uncertain

While most employers transitioned large segments of their workforces to remote work over the course of the past year, many also questioned how to satisfy various posting requirements when their workforce is at home. Fortunately, in late December, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance on how employers can use virtual means to distribute and maintain the various posters required by federal employment laws.

Background

By way of reminder, several federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), and the Service Contract Act (SCA) require employers to post a notice of rights in a conspicuous location. Typically — and pre-pandemic — employers met the notice requirements by placing posters on bulletin boards in well-trafficked locations such as break rooms or lobbies. But with the increase in remote work, many employers used company email and intranets as a workaround to notify employees of their rights. Now, employers have guidance to ensure their practices are compliant.


Continue Reading DOL Guidance on Electronic Posting of Federally-Required Notices

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) closed this most recent legislative season by signing dozens of new bills into law that affect California employers. Though some were emergency bills and took effect upon signing, the remainder take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The laws are wide-ranging, encompassing topics from pandemic-related measures, to the first board of

On December 16, 2020, the EEOC posted a new section on vaccinations in its COVID-19-related technical assistance Q&As, only five days after the FDA granted its first Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine. Section K of the EEOC’s COVID-19 Q&As (“Vaccinations”) updates and expands the EEOC’s publication “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” providing information to employers and employees regarding the impact legal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) may have on whether and how COVID-19 vaccines can be utilized in the workplace.

The Q&As are linked here, and copied below for ease of reference.

K. Vaccinations

The availability of COVID-19 vaccinations may raise questions about the applicablilty of various equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws, including the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, GINA, and Title VII, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (see Section J, EEO rights relating to pregnancy).  The EEO laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following CDC or other federal, state, and local public health authorities’ guidelines and suggestions.

1.1  ADA and Vaccinations

K.1. For any COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine to an employee by an employer (or by a third party with whom the employer contracts to administer a vaccine) a “medical examination” for purposes of the ADA? (12/16/20)

No.  The vaccination itself is not a medical examination.  As the Commission explained in guidance on disability-related inquiries and medical examinations, a medical examination is “a procedure or test usually given by a health care professional or in a medical setting that seeks information about an individual’s physical or mental impairments or health.”  Examples include “vision tests; blood, urine, and breath analyses; blood pressure screening and cholesterol testing; and diagnostic procedures, such as x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs.”  If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination.

Although the administration of a vaccination is not a medical examination, pre-screening vaccination questions may implicate the ADA’s provision on disability-related inquiries, which are inquiries likely to elicit information about a disability.  If the employer administers the vaccine, it must show that such pre-screening questions it asks employees are “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”  See Question K.2.


Continue Reading EEOC Issues Much-Anticipated Q&A Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccinations

In the somewhat-near future, US employers actually may be able to replace face coverings, social distancing markers, plexiglass barriers and Zoom calls with face-to-face interaction and handshakes. At least two COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) by the FDA before the end of 2020, following closely behind the footsteps of the UK, which began vaccinations on December 8, 2020.

While this is good news for the country, the change won’t be felt immediately for most US employers. On December 1, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel advised that the first vaccine doses should go to health-care workers and long-term care facility residents. The next group up is reportedly other “high risk” groups: bus drivers, factory workers, teachers, older people and people with underlying conditions. At this point, widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines is not expected until spring or summer of 2021. So, what should US employers whose workforce may not be eligible for vaccinations until later in the year be doing now to prepare?


Continue Reading Coronavirus Vaccines are Coming in the US: What Should US Employers Do Next?

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve 2020, sweeping amendments to California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA) will take effect. Both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the current version of CFRA entitle eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family or medical leave during a 12-month period. This statutory leave right provides employees with time off from work for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition, or when the employee cannot work because of a serious health condition.

Effective January 1, 2021, however, not only will the CFRA apply to more employers (covering employers with as few as five instead of the current 50 employees), but CFRA’s expanded definition of “family members” also will authorize certain employees to take a total of 24 weeks of family and medical leave, effectively doubling the currently available 12 weeks of leave available, in each 12-month period.

We highlight the key changes to the CFRA and employer considerations below.


Continue Reading Sweeping Changes to the CFRA Could Entitle Employees to Double the Leave