Vaccination Discrimination: A New Shot at Employer Liability
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has blessed employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations, subject to exceptions for individuals with disabilities and certain religious objections. For practical reasons, however, many employers are allowing their employees to decide for themselves whether to receive the vaccine, or are choosing to adopt a voluntary vaccination incentive program. If your business has not adopted a vaccination mandate, your workplace will soon be divided into three camps: the vaccinated, the unvaccinated (including some who refuse to be vaccinated for reasons that drip with conspiratorial leanings), and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. Faced with this reality, many employers wonder whether they can or should treat their vaccinated and unvaccinated employees differently.
Employee Privacy in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout well under way and employers plan to begin reopening their physical office spaces, they are confronted with a number of questions regarding their employees' privacy protections. Unfortunately, the piecemeal nature of U.S. privacy law means that there is no all-encompassing answer to the questions that will arise. But employers are not completely out of luck: federal regulatory guidance, state laws, and long-established privacy best practices provide a valuable roadmap for navigating the privacy issues that arise in the context of employees' return to their traditional places of work. In that vein, click below for answers to many common questions that our Labor and Employment Group has received from employers who are beginning to plan for "the new normal" after the pandemic.
Education Roundup – The American Rescue Plan Act Considerations for Schools: FFCRA Extension and Federal COBRA Subsidies
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) expanded employee benefits in two key areas: 1) employers with fewer than 500 employees may voluntarily extend leave provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and 2) federal COBRA subsidies. Schools should take note of some key modifications to the FFCRA as they decide whether to extend leave provisions, and understand key compliance obligations under COBRA. Grace Lee and Ashley Sykes provide more details below.
"Why are you passionate about this practice?”
Sarah Fucci: During law school, and even at the end of my term as a summer associate at Venable, I was not certain about the practice area I would pursue and develop into a career. Since joining Venable’s Labor and Employment Group in October 2019, it’s been difficult to envision a practice more fitting or one that would be more fulfilling. The close client relationships, diverse clientele and issues, and evolving nature of labor and employment law, particularly now given the impacts of COVID-19, not only sparked my passion for this practice, but keep that spark lit each day.
Whether we’re advising employers on workplace policies, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, or defending in litigation, it is imperative that we build a close, trusting relationship with our clients in which they can count on us to deliver compliant and creative solutions to problems and concerns that arise in their workplace. This requires us to strategically consider not only the client’s business and the ever-changing legal requirements governing the employment relationship, but also the potential consequences any decisions may have for the employer-employee relationship and workplace environment and how to effectively mitigate those consequences.
About the Labor and Employment Group
The bicoastal, 40-person Labor and Employment team at Venable provides guidance and support across the full spectrum of workplace dynamics – helping employers control costs, avoid disputes, and defend themselves when litigation arises. As co-editors of this newsletter, Michael Volpe and Doreen Martin invite you to share the content with your colleagues and reach out with any questions.