LMVT’S Headlines: Politics in the Workplace, Timekeeping for Telework, Employer Liable for COVID Transmission?

August 27, 2020   Written by:   Filed under: Breaking News

LMVT’s Headlines

August 27, 2020

POLITICS IN THE WORKPLACE: PRODUCTIVITY OR POLARIZATION?

In what appears to be our never-ending political season, employers should prepare for employee discussions during worktime related to political matters. It really is hard to get away from it as virtually every news item features something that connects to the election. How can an employer maintain productivity and peace at work while otherwise permitting employees to engage in political discussions?

“I CAN’T WEAR A MASK DUE TO A MEDICAL CONDITION…”

We have received many questions from employers about the situation where an employee says that he or she cannot wear a mask as required by an employer. There are several approaches within an employer’s rights to deal with this mask issue. First, there is a great deal of misinformation about masks. OSHA has released a helpful Q&A regarding the safety of medical and surgical masks specifically: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/covid-19-faq.html. Depending on your workforce, you may want to affirmatively make this a positive talking point in a pre-shift or other regular meeting, or simply to have it readily available on an as-needed basis.

EMPLOYER SUED OVER COVID-19 DEATHS ALLEGEDLY AS AN OUTCOME OF WORK

Lawsuits have already begun alleging that the manner in which employers handled COVID exposure resulted in serious injury or death to employees. For example, in the case of Iniguez v. Aurora Packing Company, the estate of the wife of a butcher filed a lawsuit against her husband’s employer, a meat packing company. The suit claims that the husband contracted COVID-19 while at work and transmitted the disease to his wife, who died. The lawsuit claims that the employer knew COVID-19 was spreading at its facility but did nothing to mitigate the risk. The lawsuit alleges the employer was negligent in failing to notify employees of the spread of the virus, negligent in failing to implement an infectious disease control program that followed CDC and other healthcare guidelines, and failed to monitor employee exposure to COVID-19.

TIMEKEEPING FOR TELEWORK

For many employers, the telework experiment necessitated by COVID-19 has been a surprising success. Many are considering whether to continue the telework option for at least a portion of their workforce. One of the lingering concerns, however, is how best to track time for non-exempt workers who are away from the physical workplace.

EEOC REOPENS FOR BUSINESS – GET READY

On August 6, the EEOC announced that it will begin issuing right to sue notices from its backlog of thousands of charges, beginning with the charges that are the oldest. The EEOC’s fiscal year ends on September 30, so we expect a flood of dismissals between now and September 30. One of the factors Congress considers in its funding of the EEOC is the number of charges processed and closed. Thus, the EEOC wants to finish the fiscal year with a high-level trend of charge closures. If you have a pending charge, a dismissal may occur.

FLU VACCINE CONSIDERATIONS

As August comes to a close, many employers are anxious that with Fall will come flu season, placing employers in the position of battling staffing challenges and employee health issues from two dueling infections. While healthcare employers have long mandated flu vaccines for employees, many non-healthcare employers are considering imposing flu vaccine requirements for the first time. Keep reading for consideration and employee talking points about requiring or encouraging a flu vaccine.