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Arslan Sheikh is an associate in the firm’s Columbus office and practices in the Labor & Employment group. His practice includes a host of topics, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, and workplace safety. Arslan has experience counseling clients on compliance with local, state and federal laws.

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.

Continue Reading Ohio passes law granting temporary civil immunity to businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits

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?

On March 10, 2020, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a State of Disaster Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor directed that immediate rulemaking be initiated to provide employees in certain industries paid sick leave for possible COVID-19 testing. The next day, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment published the Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules. These emergency rules became effective on March 11, 2020, and remain in effect for the longer of (a) 30 days after adoption (in other words, April 10, 2020); or (b) the duration of the State of Disaster Emergency, up to a maximum of 120 days after adoption of the emergency rules (in other words, up to July 9, 2020).

Continue Reading Colorado enacts paid sick leave rules

As we recently reported, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide paid Family Medical Leave (FMLA) and paid sick leave to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the law provides a number of protections to American workers, it also has a few gaps. One gap in the FFCRA, for example, is that it does not apply to employers of 500 or more employees.

Continue Reading New York becomes first state to enact paid sick leave law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Restrictions placed upon indoor recreational locations

On Monday, March 16, 2020, Ohio Governor Michael DeWine announced on Twitter that he will be issuing an order to close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks until further notice. This order took effect at the close of business on Monday, March 16th.

Restrictions placed upon bars and restaurants


Continue Reading Ohio takes executive measures to curb COVID-19 pandemic

Ohio Governor Michael DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted recently announced that the state has expanded unemployment compensation benefits to workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19. By way of background, Ohio’s unemployment insurance system provides 50 percent of a qualifying worker’s former average weekly pay, subject to caps based on the number of dependents in the household.

Governor DeWine has issued an executive order that expands unemployment benefits related to COVID-19. Moreover, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has published a series of questions and answers related to the order. Here are the highlights:
Continue Reading Ohio expands unemployment compensation protections in response to COVID-19 pandemic

“OK, Boomer,” a meme popularized by younger generations on social media, made its first (and likely only) appearance in the United States Supreme Court last month. If you are unfamiliar with the meme, it is a tongue-in-cheek retort used by young people – often on social media apps like TikTok and Twitter – to criticize older generations for being “out of touch.” Chief Justice John Roberts, 65, invoked the viral meme during oral arguments in Babb v. Wilkie, an age discrimination case. In Babb, a Department of Veterans Affairs pharmacist named Dr. Noris Babb alleges, among other things, that she was denied pay raises and promotions because of her age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Babb brought suit against Robert Wilkie, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Continue Reading “OK, Boomer”: From Social Media to the Supreme Court

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) invited interested parties to submit feedback about when an employee’s offensive or inappropriate workplace comments should lose the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, the NLRB is inviting employers and other parties to submit briefing about whether it should reconsider its standards for determining whether Section 7 of the NLRA protects employees who make “profane outbursts and offensive statements of a racial or sexual nature…during the course of otherwise protected activity.” By way of background, Section 7 of the NLRA gives employees the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” That can include raising work-related disputes or complaints. This right extends to all non-management employees, not just those represented by a union. But what if the employee raising specomplaints uses obscene or otherwise offensive language directed at a supervisor? In some NLRB cases, employee outbursts that have included offensive language have been shielded from punishment by the employer because the language was considered a part of protected speech.
Continue Reading NLRB invites businesses to provide feedback on when an employee’s offensive comments should lose the protection of federal labor law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that Title VII’s administrative exhaustion requirement – whereby an employee must file a claim with the EEOC prior to filing a lawsuit – is not a jurisdictional rule. This means that the employee’s failure to file a charge does not automatically mean the case cannot go to court. Instead, the employer must raise the “failure to file” issue as an affirmative defense and do so in a timely fashion. The case is Fort Bend County v. Davis.

Facts

Lois Davis filed a charge against her employer, Fort Bend County, with the Texas Workforce Commission (Texas’ EEOC equivalent) claiming sexual harassment and retaliation. While that charge was pending, Davis was terminated. She claimed it was  for failing to report to work due to a church commitment. After her termination, Davis attempted to raise the issue of religious discrimination in the ongoing Texas Workforce Commission investigation, but she did not add it to the actual charge. Shortly thereafter, she filed a lawsuit in federal district court alleging sexual harassment, retaliation, and religious discrimination under Title VII.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court makes it easier to get discrimination cases into court

Earlier this month, we reported that the United States Department of Labor (DOL) was reportedly set to propose a new regulation that would update time-and-a-half pay requirements for all hours worked beyond 40 hours a week. The Department’s proposed rule would raise the currently-enforced salary threshold, thus extending overtime protection to more workers.

On March 7, 2019, the DOL issued a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update the salary threshold for overtime exemption from $23,660.00 annually to $35,308.00 annually. On March 22, 2019, the DOL formally published the NPRM in the Federal Register. As expected, workers who make less than about $35,308.00 per year would be automatically eligible for time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked beyond 40 a week under the proposed rule. The total annual compensation requirement for highly-compensated employees would also increase from $100,000.00 to $147,414.00 under the proposed rule. The proposed rule does not modify the “duties test,” a test used to determine whether workers who make more than the salary threshold are entitled to overtime wages.
Continue Reading DOL formally publishes notice of proposed rulemaking regarding salary threshold increase