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Equal Employment Opportunity Laws During COVID-19

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated their technical assistance publication. This update addresses commonly asked questions about the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws in accordance to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new publication entitled, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” discusses the previous publication about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, as well as including a question and answer section.

The question and answer section of the updated publication addresses concerns regarding returning to work, appropriate accommodations being made, and the current harassment protocol. Answers to common questions include:

  • How much information may an employer request from an employee who calls in sick to protect its workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • When may an ADA-covered employer take the body temperature of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Does the ADA allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of the COVID-19?
  • May an employer disclose the name of an employee to a public health agency if they have COVID-19?
  • If an employer is hiring, may it screen applicants for symptoms of COVID-19?

This publication also provides the public with resources on issues related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The EEOC will continue to provide updates and assistance to the community during this public health crisis. To read the question and answer section, click here.

The main goal of the EEOC is to advance the opportunity of employees in the workplace and develop laws that prohibit employment discrimination. This includes discriminating against a job applicant or employee on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, age, or disability. Those who engage in discriminatory acts could face legal charges. Employers with at least 15 employees are covered under EEOC laws, as well as most labor unions. For more information on the EEOC, click here.

The experienced labor and employment attorneys at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser are available to answer any questions you have about the new employment laws and the effects COVID-19 has on workers in the United States. We are taking client inquiries over phone or video conference to maintain the health and safety within our staff and clients. Contact us online or call us today at 484-318-7106 for an initial consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania, as well as New Jersey.

OSHA Updates How Employers Record COVID-19 Cases

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance on the duties that employers have when recording cases of COVID-19. These guidelines were issued on April 10, 2020 and will last for the duration of the pandemic. OSHA states that employers must report any confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

Work-related cases involving OSHA general criteria need to be reported immediately. A work-related condition includes exposure to COVID-19 in the work environment causing or contributing to the resulting condition or aggravating a pre-existing illness. OSHA general recording guidelines include injury or illness resulting in death, days missed from work, restricted work, or a severe diagnosis by a physician. OSHA treats COVID-19 as a recordable illness that can cause missed workdays and, in some cases, death. Unlike the flu or common cold, COVID-19 is recordable due to its dangerous nature and how highly contagious the virus is.

If there is a COVID-19 diagnosis in the workplace, it can be hard to determine if the worker contracted the illness from the work environment or from another source. OSHA determined that they will enforce the reporting of all cases except for those where a cluster of cases emerge among those working in close proximity and employers who knew about current cases in the workplace. OSHA continues to enforce employers to focus on implementing good hygiene practices to reduce the effects of COVID-19.

During this difficult time in our country, employers still need to record any work-related injury or illness, including COVID-19. For concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the attorneys at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser at 484-318-7106 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Chester County, and New Jersey.

IS YOUR SMALL BUSINESS EXEMPT FROM THE EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE OR EMERGENCY FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT?

On March 17, 2020 President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. The FFCRA became effective on April 1st and requires, among other things, that all employers with less than 500 employees to provide emergency sick leave of up to 2 weeks paid time off for certain Covid-19 related concerns, including mandated quarantine as a result of a positive test or for suspicion of infection and for certain school and or day care closings impacting employees. On Saturday April 3 the Department of Labor issued additional guidance and FAQs related to the employer’s responsibilities under the FFCRA. Included in the FAQs is clarification for when certain employers, with less than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the emergency paid leave and / or emergency family medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. Below is a link to the DOl’s guidance and FAQs and an excerpt from the FAQs to help you determine if you may be eligible foe an exemption.

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

  1. When does the small business exemption apply to exclude a small business from the provisions of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

An employer, including a religious or nonprofit organization, with fewer than 50 employees (small business) is exempt from providing (a) paid sick leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons and (b) expanded family and medical leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern. A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that:

  1. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
  2. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
  3. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.
  1. If I am a small business with fewer than 50 employees, am I exempt from the requirements to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

A small business is exempt from certain paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements if providing an employee such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. This means a small business is exempt from mandated paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave requirements only if the:

  • employer employs fewer than 50 employees;
  • leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; and
  • an authorized officer of the business has determined that at least one of the three conditions described in Question 58 is satisfied.

The Department encourages employers and employees to collaborate to reach the best solution for maintaining the business and ensuring employee safety.

To learn more about our services and how we can help, call our legal team at 484-318-7106 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. The offices of MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser are located in West Chester, and we represent business owners throughout Philadelphia and Chester County, as well as in New Jersey.