Texas Lawyer magazine has published an article by M2D partners Mike Muskat and Michelle Mahony highlighting the legal issues employers should consider and prepare for heading into 2022. “Four Key Legal Challenges for Employers in 2022” (subscription required) aims to guide businesses as they navigate the many changes expected in the new year.
In the article, Mr. Muskat and Ms. Mahony list the following as the challenges with which businesses will have to contend:
1. Determining a workplace COVID strategy and how best to navigate the uncertain legal landscape.
For much of the 2021, it appeared that employers could mandate that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as long as there were exemptions based on disability and religious beliefs. In September, the Biden Administration issued a vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors and Medicare and Medicaid-receiving entities. Then in November, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard mandating vaccination or regular testing by employers with 100 or more employees. Numerous lawsuits were immediately filed challenging the rule. Currently all three federal mandates have been stayed by one or more federal courts pending further litigation.
Mr. Muskat and Ms. Mahony went on to say, “employers should continue to implement strategies to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace. But in 2022, they must actively monitor the host of legal questions surrounding their options and proceed with caution.”
2. Developing a strategy if the “Great Resignation” hits an employer’s workplace.
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have revealed a growing dissatisfaction within the labor market, and employees are leaving their jobs as a result. In the article, Mr. Muskat and Ms. Mahony say employers who want to resignation-proof their business and be competitive in the tight labor market should review their policies on compensation, paid leave and work flexibility.
3. Handling political and social speech in the workplace.
In the last few years, more and more employees have shown a desire to express themselves on social and hot-button issues. And it appears 2022 won’t be any different. That’s why employers should develop a “well-thought-out speech code that reflects the company’s values, best business practices, and compliance with law.”
4. Considering approaches to pay equity and compensation in light of fundamental shifts in market wages and growing demands for greater pay equity transparency.
Mr. Muskat and Ms. Mahony say pay equity should be a high-priority item in the coming year. The issue continues to be an important topic for many reasons, including the fact that many states have already passed or strengthened pay equity laws. The EEOC and the OFCCP also continue to make it a legal priority.
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