• Posts by Jonathan Judge
    Posts by Jonathan Judge
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    Jonathan Judge advises employers in various labor and employment law matters, including drug testing, mass layoffs (WARN), disparate impact analysis, immigration compliance, trade secrets, privacy, technology in the ...

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Federal OSHA’s Large Employer COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Mandate; CMS Mandate Upheld

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which required large employers (with 100 or more employees) to institute a policy requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The Supreme Court’s ruling stayed the vaccine and testing mandate on the basis that OSHA had exceeded its authority in enacting the emergency rule (and that those challenging the mandate were likely to succeed). The Court described the federal ETS as “a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.” Enforcement of the OSHA rule is currently on hold, pending further litigation on the merits.

California’s SB 331: New Restrictions on Employee Separation Agreements and Non-Disparagement and Confidentiality Provisions

On October 7, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 331 to place additional restrictions on employers offering severance agreements and settling employment claims alleging harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on purported violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). The new law, which is effective January 1, 2022, expands California’s current legal restrictions under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1001. Currently, CCP section 1001 prohibits various confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in settlement agreements, specifically those that would prevent disclosure of factual information relating to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, or retaliation against a person for reporting such acts.

According to various reports, federal OSHA will release proposed regulations regarding the vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees in the near future.  While such guidance has been eagerly anticipated in the employment community for weeks, California employers will have to wait for further guidance from Cal/OSHA, which has jurisdiction over most California workplaces.  Cal/OSHA recently revised its FAQs as follows: 

On May 3, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance that fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.  On May 7, 2021, Cal/OSHA followed this lead and updated its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards FAQs to reflect the change as follows:

On April 7, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) published new model COBRA notice forms as a result of the recent COBRA subsidy program created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (“SB 95”), which requires employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) to eligible employees.  SB 95 takes effect March 29, 2021, and will expire on September 30, 2021.

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that the political environment in the United States right now has everyone a little bit on edge, especially in the midst of an ongoing international health crisis.  Passions are running high, and tempers are flaring; however, California employers have particular cause to exercise caution and diligence when their employees voice and/or demonstrate their political beliefs.

DOL Permits Back-of-the-Restaurant Staff to Share in Servers’ Tips

On December 22, 2020, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) finalized a rule opening tip pools to employees who do not normally receive tips themselves. As the restaurant industry looks towards easing lockdown restrictions and a hopeful return to “business as usual” in 2021, California restaurants should be mindful of the impact of the DOL’s new regulations.

New Benefits Required In Wine Country: Sonoma County Enacts Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On August 18, 2020, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors enacted an emergency ordinance to establish supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“PSL”) requirements for private employers with employees who work in its unincorporated areas. The Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (“PSLO”) became operative immediately upon enactment and will run concurrently with the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), expiring on December 31, 2020; however, the PSLO would be automatically extended by any extension of the provisions of the FFCRA.

 In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the ministerial exception set forth in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 565 U.S. 171 (2012).  (Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, Case Nos. 19-267 and 19-348 (July 8, 2020)(“OLG”)).

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