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

On October 7, 2020, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its initial FAQ regarding President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (“Executive Order”). As discussed in our recent blog post, the Executive Order prohibits federal contractors from conducting workplace training during the performance of a government contract that inculcates certain “divisive concepts” in employees, and requires federal contractors to impose the same prohibition on their subcontractors and vendors.

The guidance provides some clarity to the Executive Order, which has been widely described as difficult to understand and implement. We highlight some of the guidance’s key points below.


Continue Reading DOL Issues Guidance on Controversial Executive Order on Combating Race and Sexual Stereotyping

On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (“Executive Order”), following a September 4, 2020 White House memorandum criticizing federal agencies for having “divisive, un-American” training sessions on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” and other training teaching individuals that the US or any race or ethnicity is inherently racist. The September 4 memorandum instructed federal agencies to cease the funding of any training that fit the description.

The September 22 Executive Order brings federal contractors into the fold, prohibiting them from using any workplace training during the performance of a government contract that inculcates in their employees certain “divisive concepts,” and requiring them to carry those imperatives down to their subcontractors and vendors. Though the Executive Order was “effective immediately” as of September 22, the requirements for contractors affect federal prime contracts entered into on or after November 21, 2020, leaving some time for federal contractors to prepare-or watch as expected legal challenges to the Executive Order play out.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Executive Order, federal contractors can take steps to prepare in case the Executive Order applies come November. Here’s what federal contractors need to know now.


Continue Reading Can Federal Contractors Provide D&I Training? Executive Order on Combating Race and Sexual Stereotyping Leaves Federal Contractors With No Clear Answer

California’s latest move on the COVID-19 front is an attempt to fill the gap left by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – and requires larger employers to act immediately. The FFCRA – which mandates paid sick and FMLA leave for designated COVID-19 reasons – does not apply to employers with 500 or more employees. The FFCRA also allows employers of certain health care workers and emergency responders to exclude those employees from its coverage.

On September 10, 2020, Governor Newsom closed these FFCRA loopholes for California-based employees by signing A.B. 1867 into law. The new statute takes effect immediately, and by September 20, 2020, requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of “COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave” to the following “covered workers”:

  • California-based employees of larger employers (500 or more employees in the U.S.);
  • Specified “food sector workers” (A.B. 1867 effectively codifies Governor’s Newsom’s existing Executive Order already granting paid COVID-19 paid sick leave to these workers); and
  • Health care workers and emergency responders who were excluded from FFCRA by their employers.

A.B. 1867 does two other things:

  • It requires employers to allow employees who work in food facilities, as defined in Section 113789 of the Health and Safety Code, to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed, and
  • It creates a new mediation pilot program under which small employers (5 to 19 employees) may request mediation through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within 30 days of receiving a right to sue notice for alleged violations of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the state law equivalent of the FMLA.

Interestingly, nothing in A.B. 1867 expressly limits the new COVID-19 sick leave benefit to California-based employees, but California’s ability to regulate employment relationships generally stops at its borders.

A.B. 1867’s requirements are detailed below.


Continue Reading Larger Employers Must Act Quickly To Address California’s New Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law, Including Making Changes to Paystubs Within 10 Days

On August 8, 2020, a New York federal district judge struck down a significant portion of the DOL’s “joint employer” rule, meaning certain employers may be more likely to be deemed “joint employers” and exposed to liability for employee wage and hour violations under the FLSA. The “joint employer” final rule, which was issued by the DOL in January 2020, imposed a four-factor test for deciding whether employers in “vertical” employment relationships (i.e., when workers for a staffing company or other intermediary are contracted to another entity) are joint employers under the FLSA.

Continue Reading Are You A Joint Employer Now? Part of DOL’s “Joint Employer” Final Rule Struck Down

With special thanks to Amy Greer and Jennifer Klass for contributing to this post.

COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in the US on March 13, 2020. Yet, even now, as we are over six months in to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in the US, employers still continue to face challenges when navigating the sometimes daily changes in health and safety orders, updates from federal agencies, court decisions, and the proliferation of lawsuits. One of the key decision points for many employers is when to reopen, what should drive that decision, the legal risk of “getting it wrong” and how to mitigate that risk. Unlike retailers and restaurants, companies in the financial industry have largely avoided shutting down operations. However, that does not mean they have fully reopened. Where does the financial industry stand in its reopening? What should financial services companies be concerned about in terms of COVID-19 related guidance and recommendations, legal claims by employees, and how can companies mitigate these claims? What are specific COVID-19 related compliance issues unique to investment advisors and broker-dealers? We share our insights below.


Continue Reading For Financial Industry Employers During the Pandemic, “Risk” Takes on a Different Meaning

On September 3, 2020, the DOL sent a revised proposed rule regarding paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the Office of Management and Budget for its review, according to an OMB posting. Though the OMB posting does not disclose the proposed rule’s contents, it is widely believed that the

Employers must pay for all hours they know or “have reason to believe” employees worked. But can employers simply rely on teleworking employees to report all of their hours worked, or must they instead investigate whether their employees have accurately reported their work time? With the huge increase in teleworking since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this question should be top-of-mind for employers.

On August 24, 2020, the US Department of Labor issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-5 (FAB) to clarify an employer’s obligations in determining whether teleworking employees have accurately reported their work time. In short, the employer is not required to comb through every cell phone or computer login record to look for unreported work time that the employer neither knew of nor had reason to believe had been worked. As long as the employer provides employees with reasonable time-reporting procedures and does not otherwise impede or discourage reporting, its failure to compensate employees for unreported and unknown hours of work is not an FLSA violation. The FAB and some key takeaways for employers are summarized below.


Continue Reading A “Reason to Believe”: DOL Says the Obligation to Determine Remote Employees’ Hours of Work is “Not Boundless”

The latest wrinkle for employers managing employees in the time of COVID-19 relates to employee travel. Many employers are coming to us asking how to navigate the patchwork of US state and local quarantine restrictions and / or recommendations for persons who travel to hotspots and then have to quarantine when they return home.

Questions abound, including whether employers can just test employees for COVID-19 to avoid a 14-day quarantine period, and whether employers have to pay employees to follow a quarantine order when their employees voluntarily travel to a hotspot location. We provide background and answer those questions below.


Continue Reading Navigating Employee Travel in a Maze of State and Local Quarantine Orders and Travel Advisories