New developments related to joint employer liability have arisen since our blog article posted on April 4, 2019. In that post, we discussed the proposed rule to narrow the definition of a “joint employer” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Following a review and comment period, in Jan. 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a Final Rule, adopting the rule as proposed which then became effective in March 2020.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a cataclysmic impact on small and large businesses across the state of Ohio. Some businesses have been shuttered indefinitely, while other businesses have had to adjust on the fly and upend their operations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that have been able to reopen have also faced the question of whether they are subject to tort liability if an employee, customer, vendor or other person contracts COVID-19 while on the premises. House Bill 606 now answers that question – at least in the short term.
Last Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued new temporary rules on the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to address certain previously-implemented rules the Southern District of New York recently struck down. As background, check out our post from Aug. 6, 2020, describing the decision from the Southern District of New York. And by address, the DOL in fact decided to, as they put it, “reaffirm and provide additional explanation” for its position on furloughs and intermittent leave, which, on the whole, benefit FFCRA-covered employers.
On Aug. 21, 2020, Chief Judge Algenon Marbley of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ordered the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to permit thousands of foreign nationals to work in the U.S. before they receive printed Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). These workers had already been approved to work by USCIS, but they had not received the EADs they must provide to their employers. Although these cards are usually issued within a few days of approval of an application for employment authorization, USCIS had slowed down its production of them earlier this year.
On Aug. 3, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated several significant portions of a Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule which employers had been relying upon to administer employee leave requests pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Although it is too early to know if the decision will be affirmed on appeal, or adopted by courts in other jurisdictions, employers should anticipate a renewed interest for FFCRA leave among employees previously denied it or who believed it was unavailable. And those who continue to rely on the DOL’s rule to deny such requests will be doing so at their own risk.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses across the country, employers are faced with the difficult question of how to keep their workplaces safe. Some employers are attempting to restrict off-duty employee conduct to limit high-risk behavior.
The National Football League (NFL) is one employer taking steps to regulate off-duty conduct to reduce risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL has apparently reached an agreement with the players’ association that restricts the players’ off-duty conduct in some surprising ways. Players are prohibited from attending indoor night clubs, concerts, and even indoor religious services that allow attendance above 25 percent capacity. If a player violates these rules and then tests positive for COVID-19, he will reportedly not be paid for any games he misses and future guarantees in his contract will be voided. The NFL and the players’ association have presumably entered into this agreement for two chief reasons: to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks among teams and, in turn, to increase the likelihood that NFL football can be played this season. Commentators have thrown some challenge flags at the agreement, however, due to its potential for punishing employees for engaging in lawful off-duty activities. Continue Reading NFL is tackling off-duty conduct to reduce COVID-19 spread. Can your business, too?
In an effort to encourage private employers to hire ex-offenders, legislators in the Ohio House have introduced a bill to create an Ohio Reentry Program. The proposed bill creates a fund to reimburse employers for employing ex-offenders for at least two years.
Earlier this year, Ohio legislators introduced multiple bills to expand Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We previously reported the proposed legislation here and here.
Employers generally must withhold income taxes on behalf of employees based on where the employee works. Typically this determination is simplified by the location of the employer’s offices. The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding stay-at-home orders have altered the working situations for most Americans. Only time will tell what things will look like moving forward. Employers must now consider the impact of employees working remotely and confirm that income tax withholding is properly executed given these unprecedented circumstances. My colleague Gary Schulte explains in this Employee Benefits blog post.
Recently, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 81 which contains several changes to workers’ compensation laws. Most significantly, the bill contains a provision that will codify the common law voluntary abandonment doctrine. This provision should ensure that injured workers do not receive certain disability benefits if their loss of income is not related to the allowed conditions in a claim. Significantly, this codification specifically supersedes any court opinions applying the well-known doctrine. Continue Reading What changes are coming to the well-known Ohio workers’ compensation voluntary abandonment doctrine?