As COVID-19 Cases Rise Again, New Federal and State Health and Safety Rules Diverge Dramatically

Employers are having to keep on their toes when it comes to protecting employees from COVID-19. Shifts in the outbreak continue to drive rapidly changing workplace health and safety rules in the Pacific Northwest, and this is leading to dramatically different requirements being imposed by federal and state authorities. No sooner had many employers considered…

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Timing Matters – Failure to Respond and Act Promptly Can Create Liability

A recent case emphasizes the importance of timing – both in terms of reacting to reports of employee misconduct and in imposing discipline (particularly termination). As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently found, terminating an employee, based on conduct that occurred months earlier, shortly after they complain of discrimination certainly seems…

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FDA Approval of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Provides Cover for Employer Mandates

In a milestone for the public health response to the ongoing pandemic, regulators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Monday full approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine. The two-dose mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech has been available to individuals 16 years of age and older under the FDA’s emergency use authorization since…

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Requiring Proof of Vaccination? What You Need to Know

In connection with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant, many businesses have begun to require that employees—and sometimes contractors, volunteers and patrons—provide proof of vaccination. This may come in the form of requests for voluntary disclosure, or in connection with employer vaccine policies, or pursuant to newly issued mandates from…

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Motorcycle Dealership Sales Manager Wins $500K in Sex Discrimination Suit

Backed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a female sales manager at a Harley-Davidson dealership based in Tampa, Florida, won $500,000 in punitive damages after being denied a promotion based on her sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A jury of eight unanimously found in her favor. According to…

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’90s-Era Sexual Harassment Training Won’t Cut It Anymore

Sexual harassment trainings may leave out guidance for digital interactions and tend to be heteronormative, experts say. Undeniably, workplace sexual harassment is top of mind. Employees at Activision Blizzard rallied together earlier in the year to expose their workplace’s alleged “frat boy culture.”California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil suit, which included…

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Employers React to Workers Who Refuse Vaccination as COVID-19 Cases Rise

As mandatory COVID-19 vaccines become more widespread, many employers are asking what they can do if workers refuse. Some employers are firing workers who won’t take the vaccine and others are requiring unvaccinated employees to submit to weekly testing and take other safety precautions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has weighed in with guidance that…

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Calculating the ARP COBRA Premium Subsidy Tax Credit

On May 18, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-31 (the “Notice”) providing guidance on the temporary 100% COBRA premium subsidy under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARP”). The Notice addresses how to calculate the premium subsidy and the corresponding tax credit available to premium payees, as well as the rules for claiming the tax credit.…

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Federal Court Allows ACLU Pregnancy Discrimination Case to Move Forward

A federal court determined July 14 that the American Civil Liberties Union can move forward with a lawsuit against Frontier Airlines, alleging the company discriminated against pregnant and breastfeeding employees. Frontier Airlines had requested the court dismiss the case. In its complaint filed on behalf of four Frontier employees and “all others similarly situated,” (Hodgkins, et al,…

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EEOC’s Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace Impacts Employer Approaches for Compliance with CDC Guidance and State and Local Require

Employers―and particularly those operating in multiple states―should be mindful of how the updated guidance impacts their efforts to comply with state requirements. On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on workplace COVID-19 vaccination issues under the federal EEO laws. The updated guidance is important for employers to consider in…

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