Employer Law Report

When your #hashtag is not #humorous: Preventing harassment in a remote working environment

As millions of Americans are settling into a “new normal” and working from home, employers should revisit their company policy regarding workplace harassment. Because the workplace doesn’t look quite like it used to, employees must use creative channels of communication while working remotely. Conversations that may have taken place around a water cooler may now be reduced to writing, whether via text message, email or even messages exchanged within a video conferencing platform.

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Families First Coronavirus Act provides limited exemption for small businesses

Since the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) passed in mid-March, small businesses have wondered how the U.S. Department of Labor would apply the act’s small business exemption from certain paid sick leave and supplemental family and medical leave benefits. With the Department of Labor’s recent release of its final rule interpreting the act, we finally have an answer.

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Updated Ohio BWC guidance regarding COVID-19 concerns

On April 8, 2019, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) published an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that specifically recognizes the potential compensability of COVID-19 claims as occupational disease claims. The BWC acknowledges that although communicable diseases like COVID-19 are typically not compensable, there is a possibility that the BWC could allow claims for this virus. When evaluating compensability, the BWC will consider how the disease was contracted and the nature of the claimant’s occupation. The BWC is careful to note that few jobs will have a greater risk of exposure than the general public which will be a hurdle for a claimant with a COVID-19 claim. Continue Reading

What parties need to know about tolled statutes of limitations for Ohio workers’ compensation claims

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197 (HB 197) on March 27, 2020, which tolls numerous workers’ compensation deadlines set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020.

Therefore, any relevant statute of limitations related to workers’ compensation claims will not expire during the time period between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020.  This change will impact several key events in the workers’ compensation claim process.

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Department of Labor issues “temporary rule” interpreting paid leave under FFCRA

On April 1, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a temporary rule interpreting the paid leave provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). We will follow with more detailed thoughts on the rule, but the highlights include:

  • Key definitions, including “child care provider” (defined as including unpaid family caretakers in addition to paid child care settings) and “telework”
  • Discussion of interplay between “stay at home” orders and “isolation or quarantine” orders, and the availability of paid leave in connection with those orders
  • Clarification on employees’ options and employers’ ability to require use of paid time off concurrently with expanded FMLA leave for school closures
  • Key information for employers on determining exemptions for employees who are health care providers or emergency responders, and who therefore can be exempted from FFCRA coverage
  • Instructions on counting employees for purposes of FFCRA coverage
  • Elaboration on the exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees
  • Documentation retention requirements and content for claiming the tax credits associated with the FFCRA
  • Clarification that employers not covered by the traditional FMLA are not subject to a private right of action from an employee under the expanded FMLA

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Department of Labor’s Q&A page provides new information about enforcement of Families First Coronavirus Response Act

As the April 1, 2020 effective date for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act quickly approaches, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to release guidance via a Q&A page through which the DOL illustrates how it will enforce the Act.

Some of this guidance has been discussed in earlier posts which you can find here and here. In addition, the DOL has provided the following new information. Continue Reading

The Department of Labor answers more questions about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) updated its Q&A page for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) ahead of the act’s April 1, 2020 effective date. This guidance provides employers with additional insight about how the DOL will enforce the FFCRA’s expanded Families and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and paid sick leave requirements. In this second piece of our three-part series, here is our look at the key points the new guidance provides.

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