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Jill Ripke defends companies in employment and independent contractor class action matters dealing with claims relating to independent contractor status, misclassification, unpaid overtime, unpaid meal and rest breaks, and unpaid off-the-clock work.

On May 28, 2021 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its What You Should Know about COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. The EEOC also issued a new resource titled Federal Laws Protect You Against Employment Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic which “explain[s] how federal employment discrimination laws protect workers during the pandemic.” These two publications were prepared before the CDC updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals on May 13, 2021 and “do not specifically address that new guidance.” As set forth by the EEOC in its press release, “the key updates to the technical assistance” are:

The CDC updated its guidance (here and here) and relaxed its standards in some instances for individuals who are fully vaccinated. This is because certain activities present a low risk of contracting COVID-19 for such individuals. “Fully vaccinated individuals” means that two weeks or more have passed since the person received either the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Note, however, that immunocompromised people, even if fully vaccinated, should consult their healthcare provider about the applicability of this new guidance.

The updated guidance provides that the following regarding fully vaccinated people:

  • Mask Wearing
    • Do not need to wear masks or physically distance if they are visiting indoors with other fully vaccinated people or with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease
    • May participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
  • Travel
    • May travel domestically, do not need to test for COVID-19 before or after travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after travel
    • Do not need to be tested before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States (note that the fully vaccinated individual will still need a negative test to return to the United States and the CDC still recommends that the individual get a viral COVID-19 test three to five days after travel)
  • Testing and Quarantining
    • Do not need to be tested or quarantine following a known exposure to COVID-19 if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings, including employees of high-density workplaces (such as poultry processing plants), residents and employees of non-healthcare congregate settings, and dormitory residents
    • Do not need to participate in routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible

By Jill L. Ripke, Brittany Sachs and Lauren Kulpa

We have updated and added to our frequently asked questions (FAQs) for U.S. employers relating to COVID-19 and developments in employment law. The additional FAQs focus on transitioning employees who have been working remotely back to a physical office location. These new Q&As address topics

On March 12, 2021, New York passed a new law requiring all New York employers to provide up to four (4) hours of paid leave for the purposes of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. New York is the first state to implement paid leave specifically limited to time spent getting vaccinated. The law is effective as of March 12, 2021, and the law’s leave entitlement is set to expire on December 31, 2022. In addition to paid leave, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request or take vaccination leave, or otherwise exercise their rights under the new law.

The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) unveiled a new website for companies operating in California that contains consolidated resources regarding COVID-19. The website includes a variety of resources for employers to “learn about COVID-19 workplace requirements such as safety procedures, training for employees on infection

With multiple states rolling out phased access to COVID-19 vaccines, many employers are considering whether they want to require employees to be vaccinated, how to encourage employee vaccinations, and the implications of vaccine policies for their businesses. Below are a few of the top questions that Perkins Coie has received from its clients:

  • May I

On December 28, 2020, the Los Angeles County of Public Health issued a news release stating “For those who traveled outside of L.A. County and recently returned, you may have had an exposure to COVID-19. The virus can take up to 14 days to incubate, and for many people the virus causes no illness or symptoms. If you go back to work, go shopping or go to any gatherings at any point over the next 10 days, you could easily pass on the virus to others. All it takes is one unfortunate encounter with an individual with COVID-19 for you to become infected, and sadly, for you to go on and infect others. Because of the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 while traveling outside of L.A County, for everyone that traveled or are planning to travel back into L.A. County, you must quarantine for 10 days.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which among other things, required private employers with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees as well as most public employers to provide paid leave for COVID-19 related absences beginning on April 1, 2020. The FFCRA also provided tax credits to help offset the paid leave wages required to be paid under the FFCRA. The paid leave provisions (and tax credits) of the FFCRA were set to expire on December 31, 2020.