• Posts by Robert J. O'Hara
    Of Counsel

    Attorney Bob O’Hara* focuses his practice on employment law counseling and litigation as well as human resources counseling, compliance, and training.

    Bob’s experience includes the following:

    • Conducting and overseeing ...
Blogs
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Some of the most notable recent mass shootings in the United States have been perpetrated by current or former employees in their workplaces.  For example, on April 10, 2023, an employee of a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, who had been notified that he was going to be terminated, shot and killed five bank employees and wounded many others who were attending a morning staff meeting.  In 2021, a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee shot and killed nine of his fellow employees in a San Jose, California railyard.  In its publication, “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2022”, the FBI reported that of the 50 active shooter incidents in the United States in 2022, 14 of them, comprising 28 percent of the total, occurred in “commerce” settings. 

Blogs
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On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill 9450, which added new enforcement provisions to the New York Health And Essential Rights Act’s (NY HERO Act) workplace safety committee requirements. The new law went into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.

Blogs
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On Tuesday October 4, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (“OSTP”) released a document entitled “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People” (the “Blueprint”) together with a companion document “From Principles to Practice: A Technical Companion to the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” (the “Technical Companion”).

Blogs
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On Friday, September 23, 2022, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (“DCWP”) released a Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Rules related to its Automated Employment Decision Tool law (the “AEDT Law”), which goes into effect on January 1, 2023. As we previously wrote, the City passed the AEDT Law to regulate employers’ use of automated employment decision tools, with the aim of curbing bias in hiring and promotions; as written, however, it contains many ambiguities, which has left covered employers with open questions about compliance.

Blogs
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The California legislature has presented S.B. 1162 (“the Bill”) to Governor Gavin Newsom. If the Governor signs the Bill into law, California will follow the lead of jurisdictions like Colorado and New York City by requiring many employers to include pay scales in job postings. The Bill would also impose pay equity reporting requirements, not just on large employers obligated to do so under federal law, but on any private employer with 100 or more employees, including those whose “employees” are hired through labor contractors. Those reports will also have to include breakdowns of aggregate data not previously collected.

Blogs
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On August 18, the US Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) announced that it had received a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request from the Center for Investigative Reporting (“CIR”), for all Type 2 Consolidated EEO-1 Reports filed by federal contractors from 2016-2020 (“Covered Contractors”) and that OFCCP has reason to believe that the information requested may be protected from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 4, which protects disclosure of confidential commercial or financial information and trade secrets. Accordingly, OFCCP has provided Covered Contractors with 30 days, i.e., until September 19, 2022, to submit written objections to the public release of their Type 2 EEO-1 Reports.

[UPDATE: As of September 15, 2022, the deadline to submit objections is extended to October 19, 2022.]

CIR’s FOIA request asks for a spreadsheet of all consolidated Type 2 EEO-1 reports for all federal contractors, including “first-tier subcontractors,” i.e., subcontractors that contracted directly with a prime federal contractor. Type 2 EEO-1 reports are one of several different types of reports that multi-establishment employers must file annually, which consist of a consolidated report of demographic data for all employees at headquarters as well as all establishments, categorized by race/ethnicity, sex, and job category.

Blogs
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Over the past several years, workplace artificial intelligence (“AI”) tools have matured from novel to mainstream.  Whether facilitating attracting, screening, hiring, and onboarding job applicants or charting the career path or promotability of current employees, workplace AI tools will likely become more prevalent.  Legislators and administrative agencies have taken note and are in various stages of examining and regulating these tools, with the primary goal of ensuring that they do not violate federal and state laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.

Blogs
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As explained in greater detail by our colleague Stuart M. Gerson, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two major, and quickly decided, rulings on January 13, 2022. After hearing oral arguments only six days earlier, the Court issued two unsigned decisions per curiam. A 5-4 decision in Biden v. Missouri dissolved a preliminary injunction against enforcement of an interim final rule (“Rule”) promulgated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), requiring recipients of federal Medicare and Medicaid funding to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Blogs
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On December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an update to its isolation and quarantine guidance. Although the CDC’s update shortens both the isolation and quarantine periods, as described more fully below, the changes largely affect only asymptomatic individuals. Moreover, because local guidance may differ from the CDC’s recommendations, employers should keep in mind all applicable state and local requirements when deciding whether to amend their own rules.

Blogs
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On Friday, November 12, 2021, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a strongly worded decision granting a motion to prevent the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from implementing or enforcing the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that went into effect on November 5, 2021. Among other things, the ETS mandates that employers with 100 or more employees require that their workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to precautions like regular testing and using face coverings. However, the Fifth Circuit ordered OSHA to take no action to implement or enforce the ETS until further court order.

Blogs
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As we previously reported, effective November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that covered employees are fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test at least weekly.

On November 6, 2021, just one day after the OSHA ETS became effective, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit temporarily stayed the regulation in a case captioned BST Holdings, LLC v. OSHA. Inasmuch as the OSHA rule’s first milestones are December 5, when most ...

Blogs
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President Biden’s $6 trillion 2022 budget proposal focuses on worker protections—including the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. Both of these plans contain labor and numerous employment initiatives. The budget proposes increased funding for the Department of Labor (“DOL”), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”).

The 2022 budget calls for $2.1 billion, an increase of $304 million, in DOL’s worker protection agencies. Over the past four years, those agencies ...

Blogs
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As we previously reported, on May 5, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act” or “Act”) into law, permanently codifying COVID-19-related health and safety protocols. In a memorandum issued with the signing, Governor Cuomo announced that he had secured an agreement with the Legislature for amendments to the Act to address certain ambiguities and technicalities.

On May 14, 2021, State legislators introduced bills (S6768/A7477) (“Bills” or the “Amendments”) to address some of the Governor’s concerns. The ...

Blogs
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Today is “Equal Pay Day” in the United States, a symbolic date used to focus attention on gaps that exist between men’s and women’s wages.  Current estimates show that women still only earn 82 cents for every dollar a man makes.  While there are various opinions about the pay gap and what it means, today is not a day to celebrate; rather it is a day for honest reflection.  Ask the question: is your pay system equitable?

While reflecting on Equal Pay Day, also ask, what can employers do?  Treat pay equity as a business imperative and do a deep dive on pay systems and data.  Start with a ...

Blogs
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President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order (EO) on COVID-19 tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to: launch a national enforcement program, review and correct any shortcomings in their prior enforcement strategies and to determine whether any Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) were necessary and, if so, to issue an ETS by March 15, 2021.  The prior Administration had not issued an ETS, and was severely criticized by the Congress and labor unions.

On March 12, 2021, OSHA fulfilled some of the EO directives by publishing two COVID-19 ...

Blogs
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On March 12, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the EEO-1 Component 1 data collection period will open at the end of April 2021 and close in July 2021.  Submission of the EEO-1 Report is required for employers with 100 or more employees, and applicable Federal government contractors with 50 or more employees and contracts of $50,000. The agency has not announced an exact closing date, indicating:

The EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will open at the end of April 2021 and close in July 2021. The exact closing date will be posted when the data collection ...

Blogs
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On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published revised COVID-19 guidance to help employers identify risks and determine appropriate control measures to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure. The guidance entitled, "Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace"  “(the “Guidance”) is not mandatory, but it is likely a precursor to enforcement standards that are also under review by OSHA.

On his first full day in office, President Biden directed OSHA to issue this revised ...

Blogs
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On his first day in Office, President Biden issued Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” (“Executive Order”), stating that “[i]t is . . . the policy of [his] Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all.” The Executive Order revokes President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, which had imposed restrictions on workplace diversity training under the guise of combatting race and sex stereotyping.

As we reported in our ...

Blogs
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On January 21, 2021, in an effort to provide enforcement of more stringent worker safety standards, President Biden issued an Executive Order (‘EO”) on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The EO specifically orders the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) of the Department of Labor to:

  1. issue, within two weeks of the date of the EO, revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, are necessary, and if such ...
Blogs
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On December 2, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced a new interactive data search and mapping tool, named “EEOC Explore,” which permits users to access “the most current, granular, and privacy protected aggregate EEO-1 data publicly available,” covering over 56 million employees and 73,000 employers across the United States. According to the agency, EEOC Explore “enables stakeholders to explore and compare data trends across a number of categories, including location, sex, race and ethnicity, and industry sector without the ...

Blogs
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The first legal challenge to Executive Order 13950 (the “Order”) has been made. On October 29, 2020, the NAACP, representing the National Urban League, and the National Fair Housing Alliance, filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 1:20-cv-03121), requesting injunctive and declaratory relief against the President of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor. Specifically, the lawsuit seeks for the Court to strike down the Order, declaring it unlawful and invalid ...

Blogs
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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently updated its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) regarding employers’ reporting obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As previously reported, effective as of May 26, 2020, OSHA has declared COVID-19 a recordable illness for all employers.  Thus, employers are responsible for recording workplace cases of COVID-19 on a OSHA 300 Log if the case:  (1) is confirmed COVID-19, as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”); (2) is ...

Blogs
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On July 27, 2020, Virginia became the first state in the nation to implement workplace safety and health standards for COVID-19.  The Safety and Health Codes Board adopted § 16VAC25-220, an Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19 (the “Temporary Standard”), which is designed to supplement and enhance existing Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (“VOSH”) laws, rules, and regulations that may apply to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the workplace.  Virginia imposed these standards because ...

Blogs
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In recent years, wage discrimination has been a hot topic and with it, the question of whether employers may rely on a worker’s salary history to justify a pay disparity between male and female employees. In a 2018 case involving the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), Rizo v. Yovino, (about which we wrote here), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”) ruled that employers may not rely on prior salary to excuse unequal pay. On petition, the Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded the case on a technical ground (i.e., because the judge who ...

Blogs
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On May 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued two COVID-19 related Enforcement Memos to provide updated guidance to OSHA investigators: (1) Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (“Revised Recordkeeping Guidance”), which reinstates  employers’ recordkeeping obligations for COVID-19 cases (29 CFR Part 1904) and (2) Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)  (“Updated Enforcement Response Plan Guidance”), which generally returns to  pre-COVID investigation ...

Blogs
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On May 7, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that it was delaying the collection of 2019 EEO-1 demographic data until 2021 because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Accordingly, the EEOC’s online filing portal for 2019 EEO-1 filings will remain closed for now.

Recognizing the substantial impact the public health emergency is having on businesses across the country, the EEOC determined that delaying collections would put employers in a better position to provide accurate data. It expects to begin collecting 2019 EEO-1 data along ...

Blogs
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On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an industry-specific alert for the package delivery industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The alert provides guidance tailored to the package delivery industry, but it is equally useful for any company using its own employees to deliver goods to customers or clients.

OSHA recommends the following:

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
  • Establish flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) where feasible.
  • Practice sensible social ...
Blogs
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On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (‘OSHA”) of the U.S. Department of Labor issued a guidance memorandum (“Memorandum”) to its Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling COVID-19 referrals, complaints, and severe illness reports.

The Memorandum articulates the procedures OSHA will use to prioritize enforcement responses, and details measures for protecting OSHA employees from the workplace hazard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), i.e., the virus causing the current ...

Blogs
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As we previously reported in our “Summary of OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has provided detailed directions for employers with respect to ensuring an OSHA-compliant workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.  On April 10, 2020, the DOL issued a memorandum providing interim guidance on enforcement of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as they relate to recording cases of COVID-19. The memorandum, which is “intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis,” became effective ...

Blogs
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On April 25, a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the EEOC must collect Component-2 wage/hours worked data from employers by September 30, 2019.  The Court also ordered EEOC to collect two pay years (2018 and either 2017 or 2019). If the EEOC choses 2017 it will also be due on September 30.  If it chooses 2019, that data will be due March 31, 2020. The EEOC has until May 3 to determine which additional year will be collected.

The bottom line is that employers who file EEO-1’s now have two deadlines:  May 31 for the traditional race/ethnicity and gender snapshot, and September 30 ...

Blogs
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This week, the U.S. District Court granted the EEOC’s request for a brief reprieve (until April 3) to provide information to federal contractors about what and when they will need to file the EEO-1 Part 2 pay data report.  The judge told the EEOC to spell out how pay data will be collected, when it is due and how employers should format the data.  The Department of Justice, arguing for EEOC, claimed EEOC’s systems were not prepared to accept the influx of data, but that they were working hard to modify their systems.  For the first time, the Court acknowledged the difficulty employers face ...
Blogs
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In a stinging rebuke of the Trump Administration’s attempt to remove burdensome regulations on employers, Judge Tanya Chutkan, a District Court judge in the District of Columbia this week reinstated the EEO-1 “Part 2” wage data/hours worked reporting form for all employers who file annual EEO-1 demographic reports with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the U.S. Department of Labor. (This includes all companies employing more than 100 people, or 50 people if they are a US federal contractor.)

This new data collection requirement, launched in 2016 by ...

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