Since the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), many healthcare organizations, especially those with a structure that includes a friendly or captive PC model, have struggled to determine whether they may aggregate employees across all affiliated entities to reach the 500-employee threshold that exempts employers from the paid leave requirements of the FFCRA.

However, based on rolling FFCRA guidance recently issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), employers of healthcare providers may exclude such employees captured by the DOL’s definition of healthcare provider from paid leave benefits under the FFCRA.  Because of the broad scope of the definition of healthcare provider recently provided by the DOL, many healthcare organizations and even those entities that provide services to healthcare organizations may be able to exclude all of their employees from paid leave benefits under the FFCRA regardless of whether they meet the 500-employee threshold.


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The Department of Labor has issued a Notice Poster outlining employees’ rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA). This poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place in a location visible to employees and is available for download on the DOL website.  Additional facts regarding posting requirements can be found here.

Both the FFCRA’s leave provisions (Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA) apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees.  The Department of Labor has issued a Questions and Answers resource addressing one of the FFCRA’s most lingering questions – which employees are counted for purposes of the 500 or less employee threshold?


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COVID-19 is spreading and testing, in many states, is increasing.  As a result, increasing numbers of employers will be faced with the reality of an employee testing positive for COVID-19.  When that happens, what’s an employer to do?  Below are some FAQs about COVID-19 in the workplace.

An employee has tested positive.  What can an employer do?

Send the employee home immediately.  The employer may require a doctor’s note releasing the employee to return to work, although the CDC has asked employers to consider foregoing such documentation due to current healthcare constraints.  If the employer chooses to forego the medical release to work, the CDC has provided that employees should not return to work until they are free of fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and any other COVID-19-related symptoms for at least 24 hours.  The CDC has indicated that healthcare professionals diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to work after seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND after three days have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms.

The employer should consider a deep clean of the employee’s workplace, including common areas.  The employer has the option to notify the diagnosed employee’s co-workers of the diagnosis, without releasing the employee’s name.  A sample notice is below:


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The economic repercussions of COVID-19 have been immediate and in many cases, debilitating, to American business across all industries, from food & beverage to manufacturing to healthcare.  Challenges faced include government-mandated closures of certain “non-essential” businesses and reduced demand of products and/or services.  As business revenue plummets, many companies are faced with the need to cut significant human capital costs in order to keep their business afloat.  Below are some options for companies to consider as they work to address reduced staffing needs.

Furlough

While the term furlough is used to describe various arrangements, typically a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence.  A furlough is often ideal for employers who anticipate a temporary need for reduced staffing.  Employees on furlough are still technically employed by the employer and, as a result, may be able to remain on the employer’s group health plan(s) if permitted by the terms of the plan(s).  Employers may require employees to pay the applicable employee portion of the premium during the furlough.  If the employer’s group health plan(s) is not available to employees on furlough, COBRA coverage would commence.  Also, many states allow for unemployment compensation to employees on an unpaid furlough.


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Join us for a complimentary seminar where we will review a broad range of topics pertaining to significant legislative and regulatory actions and court decisions that occurred in the area of employment law over the past year.

7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Program

Topics will include:

  • FLSA

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed the implications of the ruling holding responsible the University of Connecticut Health Center for the sexual harassment of an employee by a fellow co-worker. In the ruling, the court found that the University of Connecticut Health Center did not take proper steps to alert supervisors of the co-workers prior harassment history which, therefore, prevented the supervisors from properly monitoring his behavior and allowed the misbehavior to occur. According to Tim, “While employers likely can’t monitor their staff at all times and eliminate all workplace harassment, they likely need to have a ‘heightened sense of awareness’ when an employee has been disciplined in the past, and companies will have a greater responsibility to monitor and investigate any allegations in those situations.”

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Several new minimum wage rates are slated to take effect on January 1, 2018 in various cities throughout California, as well as the state as a whole.  California employers should begin preparing now to adjust employee wages to ensure compliance with the new rates.

A summary of the new minimum wage rates for nonexempt employees is provided below:


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Although the Trump administration rescinded its guidance on worker misclassification earlier this year and appears to have otherwise taken a “softer approach” to misclassification enforcement, California employers should remain diligent in properly classifying their workers and should not allow lax federal enforcement to lead to similarly lax corporate policies.  California employers remain subject to strict laws governing worker misclassification.  California law presumes that all workers who render services for another are non-exempt employees unless employers prove that they are independent contractors or exempt employees. Cal. Lab. Code § 3357. Employers who willfully misclassify their workers can be subject to steep penalties.

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Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Bob Horton and Kimberly Veirs contributed an article for Practical Law on Tennessee laws related to the mutual agreements to arbitrate employment-related disputes. The article outlines key differences between federal and Tennessee arbitration law and cites several cases interpreting these statutes. Bob and Kimberly also provided sample language for a Tennessee-specific agreement to arbitrate employment-related claims that can be used by employers with employees in Tennessee.

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Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Bob Horton and Kimberly Veirs contributed an article for Practical Law on Tennessee laws related to the mandatory arbitration of employment-related claims. The article outlines key differences between federal and Tennessee arbitration law and provides guidance on issues associated with unconscionability, severability, waiver of class and representative actions, arbitrability, drafting considerations, EEOC challenges, and bracketed text. As part of the article, the authors provided sample language for a Tennessee compliant mandatory arbitration provision of employment-related claims that can be incorporated into a written employment agreement or employee handbook.

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