The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 Technical Assistance Q&A on June 11, addressing an employer’s handling of pandemic-related harassment, pregnant employees, employees with family members at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and other workplace discrimination issues. Below is an overview of that guidance.

Continue Reading EEOC Update: COVID-19 Guidance on Various Workplace Discrimination Issues

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new guidance regarding an employer’s obligation to record all COVID-19 illnesses among workers if the illness is “work-related.” This new obligation went into effect on May 26, 2020, and supersedes guidance issued in April.

Recordkeeping Obligations

Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following requirements are met:

When is a COVID-19 Illness Work-Related?


Continue Reading Employer’s Obligation on Reporting COVID-19 as a Work-Related Illness – Updated OSHA Guidance

I recently offered guidance on the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act as it relates to changes in employment status for an article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) addressing potential litigation issues from the COVID-19 fallout.

The WARN Act requires most employers with more than 100 employees to provide a 60-day notice ahead of large-scale layoffs or the closing of operations. WARN Act claims require plaintiffs to show the following:

  • A facility closed and at least 50 full-time employees lost their jobs.
  • At least 500 full-time employees at a facility lost their jobs.
  • At least 50 full-time employees lost their jobs and the number of full-time employees at the facility losing their jobs exceeded one third of all employees at the facility.


Continue Reading Guidance on Potential Litigation Involving WARN Act Following COVID-19 Pandemic

As part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have recently provided relief to benefit plan sponsors by moving back certain upcoming plan compliance deadlines. See further below for a detailed list of the specific relief. IRS Notice 2020-23 provides that if any deadline would occur between April 1 and July 14, that deadline is automatically moved back until July 15, 2020, and this extension applies to a list of 44 employee benefit plan-related deadlines. The IRS notice triggered the PBGC’s disaster relief policy, which automatically extends certain PBGC deadlines that occur in the same April 1 to July 14 time period to July 15, 2020.

Additional relief was announced on April 28, in the form of a joint notice ( Joint Notice) issued by EBSA, IRS and the Treasury Department, which extended a number of deadlines for benefit plans and participants in accordance with CARES Act changes to ERISA Section 518. The Joint Notice’s relief applies to the “Outbreak Period,” the length of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the announcement that the COVID-19 National Emergency is over. On the same day, EBSA issued Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 (Disaster Relief Notice). The Disaster Relief Notice clarified EBSA’s enforcement stance on certain fiduciary duties that plan sponsors have by extending deadlines. The Disaster Relief Notice also stated that the Outbreak Period extension, described in the Joint Notice, also applies to the distribution timelines for notices, disclosures, and other documents that Title I of ERISA requires plans to distribute to participants and beneficiaries. EBSA also released an FAQ which explains some of the relief provided by the Joint Notice and Disaster Relief Notice.


Continue Reading IRS, EBSA and PBGC Provide Further COVID-19 Relief for Benefit Plans

Bass, Berry & Sims has provided updated guidance on the employment-related provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the FFCRA regarding providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) benefits under the Act. This guidance includes answers to some

As developments related to COVID-19 continue to unfold, it’s imperative to prioritize the rapidly evolving state and federal level regulations and act accordingly to ensure your business is complying, but also accessing available federal and state assistance. In an effort to help navigate the unique challenges government contractors face during this time, our attorneys will

I recently explained how employers can legally respond when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 in an article for the Washington Business Journal. Many employers think the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) protects employee health information, but that pertains specifically to health providers.

For employers, the Americans with Disabilities Act, protects the privacy of a workers health records and information, so employers may ask employees if they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus, but must keep that information confidential in accordance with the ADA.

When it comes to taking an employee’s temperature, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allows employers to get thermometer readings given the potential direct threat to others who could be exposed. I advised in the article to “treat this like a real medical test,” and go to a private room to take someone’s temperature and keep results completely confidential in that employee’s medical file.


Continue Reading Working in the Age of the Coronavirus