As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the legal community has ramped up efforts to identify challenges and manage risks. In recognition of the employment implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Journal of Regulatory Compliance invites original submissions for publication in our Spring 2021 issue. The official Journal of Regulatory Compliance is a bi-annual …
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local municipalities have issued emergency proclamations requiring small businesses to either shut down or limit their business operations. This has caused small businesses to suffer substantial profit losses. In response, small businesses have filed business interruption claims with their insurance providers to recover their profit losses. However, insurance companies have mostly rejected their insureds’ business interruption claims because there has not been a direct physical loss or damage to the insureds’ properties, which is required to grant business interruption coverage. Businesses have been forced to file lawsuits against their insurers, hoping that the courts will compel insurance companies to provide business interruption coverage to their insureds during the pandemic. Business owners have also asked their elected officials to intervene and help them by passing legislation that would require insurance companies to provide business interruption coverage.
As COVID-19 is back on the rise throughout the United States and various vaccine trials are occurring, employers are beginning to consider COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all their employees. While no vaccine has been approved yet, predictions point to a possible release by the end of the year. The vaccine is not expected to be readily available until mid-2021 for the general public, which makes it difficult for most employers to mandate vaccination at least until 2021. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has yet to release guidance on COVID-19 vaccine so it is best to consider guidelines discussing flu vaccines for now. Although there are necessary accommodations due to federal legislation, vaccine programs are permissible.
When Governors around the United States initially provided COVID-19 regulations to restaurants and other businesses, it was relatively warm outside. Outdoor dining was easily accessible throughout the summer and outdoor dining continues to be especially crucial in order to accommodate for social distancing. In Chicago, Illinois, the city has closed off streets in order for restaurants to expand tables into the road to make room for more customers while continuing to abide by health and safety regulations. However, with the cold winter weather fast approaching, restaurants will be forced to adapt in order to stay in business. As of mid-September, only six months into the pandemic, 100,000 restaurants have closed on a permanent or long-term basis in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has recently proposed a rule change that would revise its interpretation of “independent contractor” under the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”). According to DOL, which has the power to investigate worker complaints about misclassifications, this change is needed to promote certainty for stakeholders, reduce litigation, and encourage innovation in the economy. However, this proposed rule could also diminish employee rights because independent contractors have fewer protections under FLSA. This rule widens the scope of who can be considered an independent contractor. Thus, many workers classified as employees could be reclassified as independent contractors and lose protections under FLSA.
In the long standing and highly regulated field of workers’ compensation, a look into the recent landscape of laws, regulations, and court decisions in New Mexico could provide a snapshot into the rapidly accelerating trajectory of medical cannabis regulation within a state’s workers’ compensation system.
During the expedited legislative session on May 20-24, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB 2455 which was signed into law as Public Act 101-633 on June 5, 2020. While well-intentioned, this Act could create a huge liability for school districts depending on how the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”) interprets the law. School districts are already facing an uncertain financial future and this law is adds more uncertainty and possibly more financial insecurity.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, public health partners throughout Illinois, and federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), are responding to an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus called COVID-19 that was first identified in December 2019 during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, including the United States, since it was detected and was declared a public health emergency for the U.S. on January 31, 2020 to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to the threat. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced March 11, 2020 that the spread of coronavirus qualified as a global pandemic.
By now most people are familiar with the #MeToo movement. The movement began in 2006 by women, specifically Tarana Burke and women of color from low wealth communities, to help survivors of sexual violence. Eleven years after the movement was founded, it exploded during the fall of 2017 when well-known women in the entertainment industry began to use the famous #MeToo hashtag and shared their stories of sexual, discrimination, abuse and harassment. Two and half years later, there has been some change, but not enough. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said the biggest impact of #MeToo is that it decreased the stigma associated with sexual abuse and harassment and increased awareness.
In March 2019, Senator Brian Schatz and Senator Roy Blunt introduced a bill to Congress designed to provide oversight for facial recognition technology, known as the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act. If passed, this law could change the way Americans deal with privacy.