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.
For more than two and a half years, employers across the country have navigated a nuanced web of legal requirements and guidance to safely operate during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Recent updates to the legal landscape at the federal, state, and local level, however, have left many employers asking: is the COVID-19 pandemic finally over? For now, the answer remains “no.” This post discusses three key reasons why employers should continue to operate with the pandemic in mind.
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.
On the evening of Wednesday, December 22, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it will hold a special session on January 7, 2022, to hear oral argument in cases concerning whether two Biden administration vaccine mandates should be stayed. One is an interim final rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”); the other is an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). The CMS interim final rule, presently stayed in 24 states, would require COVID-19 vaccination for staff employed at Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers. The OSHA ETS, which requires businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus or otherwise to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, was allowed to take effect when a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to which the consolidated challenges had been assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, issued a ruling on December 17, 2021, lifting a stay that had been previously entered by the Fifth Circuit. Multiple private sector litigants and states immediately challenged the decision.
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.
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 ...
On Monday, October 11, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-40 (the “Order”) prohibiting vaccine mandates by any entity. The Order, which was effective upon issuance, states: “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.” It provides for a maximum fine of up to $1,000 per violation for any failure to comply with the order ...
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 ...
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 ...
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:
- issue, within two weeks of the date of the EO, revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, are necessary, and if such ...
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: The latest FAQs from OSHA recommend wearing face masks, among other suggestions, for employees returning to work. Attorney Robert J. O'Hara discusses the significance of OSHA’s decision to issue recommendations, rather than guidance, and how rules on face masks in the office may differ at the state and local levels.
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 ...
On July 30, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at rolling back electronic reporting requirements that were implemented under a rule issued during the Obama administration (“Electronic Reporting Rule”). The Electronic Reporting Rule required employers with 250 or more employees, as well as employers in high risk industries, to electronically submit OSHA Form 300A (annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses) by the end of 2017, and OSHA Forms 300 (log of injuries and illnesses ...
Like several other statutes, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) requires whistleblowers to initiate their complaints by an administrative filing with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. But when a preferred outcome in that designated arena appears unlikely, a whistleblower may be allowed to abandon the administrative process before a final order issues and seek a new opportunity in court. Faced with the prospect of another round of de novo litigation, employers may turn increasingly to pre-dispute arbitration agreements as an alternative to litigating in court.
As exemplified by Stone v. Instrumentation Laboratory Co.(4th Cir. 2009) (pdf), filing an administrative complaint and participating in the administrative process, as required by SOX, do not foreclose access to a federal court before the issuance of a final administrative order. The court explained that the preclusion doctrine, intended to avoid duplicative litigation, does not bar de novo consideration by a federal district court if a lawsuit is filed at least 180 days after the administrative filing and before the Department of Labor has issued a final decision, even where administrative proceedings have progressed to Administrative Review Board consideration of an administrative law judge’s dismissal of a complaint.
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