August 05, 2021

Labor and Employment Newsletter

5 min


New York City Issues First-in-Nation Vaccine Mandate for Gyms, Restaurants, and Theaters

On August 3, 2021, New York City (NYC or the City) Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that employees and customers of indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor entertainment and performance establishments must provide proof of at least one vaccination before entering the premises. The program, dubbed the "Key to NYC Pass," is the first of its kind in the United States and comes amid rising COVID-19 infections due to the Delta variant of the virus. Based on the rollout of this program, it is possible – and some pundits would even say likely – that other jurisdictions will follow suit. Click below for answers to some key questions for New York City employers in the affected industries.

Pros and Cons of Pooled Employer Plans

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) created a new type of defined contribution multiple employer plan, the pooled employer plan. Unlike previous versions of multiple employer plans, it need not be limited to employers sharing a nexus or interest, or located in the same geographical area. Moreover, the plan as a whole is protected from disqualification due to the noncompliance of a participating employer, as long as the plan provides a mechanism for expelling a chronically noncompliant employer and holding such employer responsible for its noncompliance. As a result, pooled employer plans may be an attractive option for some employers. Click below to read several of the advantages that a pooled employer plan provides.

Dress Codes in the Modern Workplace: An Employer's Guide to Avoiding Pitfalls and Liability

Amid the ever-evolving landscape of workplace discrimination laws, savvy employers must regularly review their personnel policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the most recent legal guidance and developments. For many, it may come as a surprise that company dress codes are among the workplace policies that have been the subject of increased litigation and scrutiny by courts and administrative agencies charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Company dress codes and grooming policies could give rise to a wide variety of legal claims, including employee claims alleging gender discrimination or stereotyping, race or national origin discrimination (e.g., "hairstyle discrimination"), or a failure to provide a religious or medical accommodation or exception to a company policy. Click below to read what you need to know to assess whether your corporate dress code leaves your company vulnerable to the most common employment claims and, if necessary, some best practice tips to revamp your policy.

The Seventh Circuit Agrees: All Students at a Public IHE Must Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

As we previously reported, on July 21, 2021 a federal judge upheld Indiana University's policy of requiring its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. On August 2, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's ruling, stating in its decision, "Starting next semester, all students at Indiana University must be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they are exempt for religious or medical reasons." The appellate court's ruling provides further legal support for the mandatory vaccination requirements of many institutions of higher education (IHEs).

Biden Administration Announces Long COVID-19 May Qualify as a Disability Under Federal Law

As we previously wrote here, employers must now consider whether individuals reporting lingering physical and psychological impairments from the coronavirus, colloquially referred to as COVID-19 "long haulers," may be covered under federal, state, and local disability and medical leave laws. This week, on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Biden confirmed what we anticipated: individuals experiencing long COVID-19 symptoms may qualify for the protections of the ADA.

Education Roundup – Keep or Toss? Developing a Document Retention Policy in Independent Schools

For many independent schools, developing or revising a document retention policy can seem like a daunting task. The sheer number and volume of different types of paper documents generated in any given school year – not to mention electronic documents – can leave one's head spinning. Click below to find a roadmap that independent schools can use to develop a document retention policy that is legally compliant and reflects their circumstances.

In the News

Nicholas ReiterBusiness Insurance Quotes Nicholas Reiter on Mandatory Vaccines in Healthcare Settings

Nicholas Reiter was quoted in Business Insurance on the move to mandatory vaccinations for COVID-19 in healthcare settings, a trend experts say has been spurred by a rise in cases of the disease nationwide and the recent dismissal of a federal lawsuit challenging a vaccination mandate.

Attorney Spotlight

Sandy SchlesingerSandy Schlesinger: I enjoy helping our clients navigate real-world problems in different workplace settings and working with them to create practical solutions that fit the needs of their business. I also find the diversity of work very engaging — one morning I could be handling a contentious litigation, and by the afternoon I could be drafting an employee handbook to improve workplace policies. Labor and employment laws are constantly evolving, which makes practicing in this space challenging yet interesting.

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.