Companies are facing critical business challenges in regard to their most important asset – their people. While workforce transformation is not a new concept for global organizations, the pandemic has forced us to rapidly adapt our standard ways of working and how we engage with employees to ensure the long-term viability of the business. We
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.
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.
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?
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.
Employees are the backbone of any supply chain operator. As such, upholding fundamental labor standards and protecting worker rights is a complex undertaking. Further, COVID-19 has introduced additional complexities regarding employee safety and remote work. The following are some considerations to help employers navigate the global framework of ever-evolving laws that touch the supply chain.
One of the major priorities for an employer in the supply chain industry is to avoid and prevent forced labor. Globally, millions are thought to be in trapped in forced labor. Many of these victims are linked to the supply chains of the international businesses supplying our goods and services. According to the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index, published with input from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as of 2016, about 40.3 million men, women and children were trapped in modern slavery, including 24.9 million people who were victims of forced labor in global supply chains. Slavery can exist in all stages of the supply chain, from the picking of raw materials such as cocoa or cotton, to manufacturing goods such as mobile phones or garments, and at later stages of shipping and delivery to consumers.
To combat this human rights issue, several governments, on the global and U.S. federal and state levels, have passed laws to prevent human trafficking and require companies to ensure that they are not using forced labor:
- In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act makes human trafficking a federal crime, allows victims to sue traffickers; expands the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act’s list of crimes to include human trafficking, provides deportation protections for victims and their families, requires annual reports to Congress on efforts to prevent human trafficking, requires the government to notify all applicants for work and education visas about workers’ rights in the US and screen all unaccompanied immigrant children. Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits the importation of goods mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor and indentured labor. Regulations promulgated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allow for issuing withhold release orders, requiring detention of goods at ports of entry when CBP agents reasonably believe that an importer is attempting to enter goods made with forced labor.
- Further, California enacted the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, under which companies with over $100 million in gross sales who do business in California must disclose on their websites any efforts taken to eradicate human trafficking from their supply chains.
Raging for nearly six months, the coronavirus pandemic scattered a wide swath of the U.S. workforce from its offices.
Now private sector employers are being forced to confront a long-deferred question: will they retain this large-scale remote workforce flexibility or push to re-establish a status quo long perceived as integral to corporate culture?
In the wake of the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, government investigations into perceived preferential treatment of foreign workers by U.S. employers is expected.
At-risk companies include those in industries that typically employ a higher number of foreign workers under H-1B, H-2A and H-2B visas, from technology and consulting to hospitality and food …
We hope you have found our video chat series helpful and informative. We are continuing this series of quick and bite-sized video chats, where our employment partners team up with practitioners in various areas of law to discuss the most pressing issues for employers navigating the return to work. Each 15-minute Q&A session offers targeted…
We hope you found our first three weeks of video chats to be helpful and informative. Due to popular demand, we are continuing this series of quick and bite-sized video chats, where our employment partners team up with practitioners in various areas of law to discuss the most pressing issues for employers navigating the return…
As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched across the globe, companies shifted to remote working environments and many reduced staff, all without much of an opportunity to prepare. The past two months have presented a serious threat to data security, including the most vulnerable financial data, personal data of employees and customers, and trade secrets. These risks cut across all sectors — financial services, industrial manufacturers, health care, and professional services. Recent experience confirms that an effective information security strategy should target these most-common threats: phishing, data sprawl, and employee mobility/redundancies.
How to Protect Your Company
Take a holistic approach to threat mitigation and data loss prevention in the face of increased risks. Such an approach must account for data protection, intellectual property (including trade secrets), and employment law. Here are the action items in these uncertain times to help address and mitigate the legal and regulatory risks: