Five Reminders for Employers Preparing for Severe Weather in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

Who could have predicted, as recently as January, that our year would bring us not only an unprecedented global health pandemic but also a busy hurricane season? Yet, here we are, in August 2020, doing our best to stop the spread of COVID-19 while, at least in Houston and the surrounding areas, preparing for Hurricane …read more »

COVID-19 Related Agency Action in July 2020 – DOL, OSHA, DHS, and IRS Issue New Guidance

July 2020 has been another busy month for the federal and state agencies that regulate employment in addressing COVID-19.  The following briefly summarizes some of the most recently-published agency guidance and other resources available to assist employers in navigating the ongoing pandemic in their workplace.  These materials include new guidance from the DOL on unemployment …read more »

Practical Advice for Employers Responding to COVID-19 Contact Tracers

In mid-April 2020, which in the age of COVID-19 feels like eons ago, President Trump announced his Opening Up America Again plan, designed to restart the U.S. economy by encouraging state and local governments to lift stay-at-home restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. And many state and local governments followed the …read more »

EEOC and OSHA Answer Important Questions Regarding Workplace Reopenings

The EEOC continues to periodically update its technical assistance document entitled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” with the latest updates made on June 17, 2020.  The same day, OSHA released its “Guidance on Returning to Work,” which makes new recommendations in addition to what …read more »

Before Implementing a Layoff, Consider an Unemployment Workshare Program

As employers begin to plan for their employees’ return to work, many are unable to maintain the size of their workforces in light of the ongoing economic downturn. As they plan for layoffs or long-term furloughs, employers should also be aware of the possibility of an unemployment workshare program. The main difference between a layoff …read more »

As States Begin to Reopen, Employers Must Continue to Minimize Safety Risks

Texas, like many states, is allowing more businesses to reopen and at greater capacities as it moves into Phase II of its COVID-19 pandemic response plan. See Executive Order GA-23, available at https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-23_phase_two_expanding_opening_COVID-19.pdf. This is good news for business and the economy, but also presents several unique challenges as employers must continue to ensure the …read more »

Understand the WARN Act’s Oft-Misunderstood “Unforeseeable Business Circumstance” Defense and its Potential Applicability to Your Layoffs

As the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to impact employees and employers alike, employers must make difficult decisions to protect their businesses. The United States is facing what some predict to be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Many employers are finding it necessary to reduce their workforce to stay afloat. The federal Worker …read more »

Confirm that Your FFCRA Leave Request Forms Align with DOL Regulations AND the IRS Guidance on Claiming Tax Credits for Leave

Since the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), there has been confusion regarding what “documentation” that employers can and should request from employees who qualify for FFCRA leave. Some of the confusion was addressed in the DOL’s regulations clarifying the documentation requirements. Under the regulations, for both emergency paid sick leave and …read more »

Zoom May Be Here to Stay, but Are You Ready to Produce the Recordings in Discovery?

Videoconferencing—through productivity tools like Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams—has become part of the new normal. Matters that as recently as six weeks ago would have been handled by conference call are now routinely, in some cases almost exclusively, addressed in videoconferences. And while not every employee has embraced Zoom and its analogs, consensus among employers …read more »

Unemployment Compensation Benefits and the COVID-19 Pandemic

There are a lot of questions about unemployment compensation benefits in this new normal as businesses continue to contemplate closings, furloughs, and layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, workers who are totally or partially unemployed related to COVID-19 have two potential sources for accessing unemployment benefits. The first is their individual State unemployment …read more »