September 30, 2021

Labor and Employment Newsletter

4 min


Federal Contractor COVID-19 Vaccination and Mask Mandates

On September 24, 2021, the first Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors (Guidance) was issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force). Federal contractors and subcontractors should immediately begin taking steps to come into compliance with the requirements of the Guidance. The failure to do so could jeopardize their ability to obtain new contracts and subcontracts. Note that the Task Force may issue additional or updated guidance in the future — for example, later guidance may address concerns about waning immunity over time or the new availability of booster shots for certain groups.

Ordering All Employees Back to Work? Not So Fast, Says the EEOC

As vaccination rates increase and the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) subsides, many employers have instructed their employees to return to in-person work. But is that the right call for all employees? In one recent case, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said no.

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks New York Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers Seeking Religious Exemptions

On September 14, 2021, a federal judge in the Northern District of New York granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) temporarily blocking the portion of the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers that excludes any religious exemptions to receiving the vaccine. The TRO does not suspend the vaccine mandate in its entirety. However, for the time being, it bars the DOH from enforcing any requirement that health care employers deny religious exemptions from the vaccine or revoke previously granted religious exemptions.

Education Roundup - Vaccination, Testing, and Mitigation: What the Biden Administration's COVID-19 Plan Means for Independent Schools

On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a six-part strategy to combat COVID-19. Click below for a summary of the key provisions of which independent schools should be aware including mandatory vaccination or weekly testing and calling on the states to adopt mitigation measures for schools.

Recent Win

Brian Clark and Allison GotfriedCourt Finds Elevated Risk of COVID-19 Complications is not a Covered Disability under Federal Law

On September 28, 2021, Venable LLP attorneys Brian Clark and Allison Gotfried secured what could prove to be a far-reaching ruling on the issue of whether individuals with an underlying condition that places them at an "elevated risk of complications" from exposure to COVID-19, without more, are qualified as "disabled," entitling them to job accommodations under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act). The Court granted the employer’s motion to dismiss, ruling that since neither Plaintiff's prior COVID-19 infection, nor his lifelong chronic kidney disease (or the potential for serious complications from COVID-19) limited his ability to work, Plaintiff was not "disabled" under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act. We believe this decision is the first to address this issue, but are sure there will be more decisions on this in the future. We will keep you apprised as courts deal with the issue going forward.

In the News

ThinkAdvisor Discusses the End of Federal COBRA Subsidies Based on Venable Article

On September 17, 2021, ThinkAdvisor provided commentary on the end of a temporary federal health insurance premium subsidy program based on a Venable alert by Juliana Reno, Lisa Tavares, and Ryann Aaron.

Attorney Spotlight

Ron TaylorRon Taylor: I started at Venable 40 years ago this month, eager to practice sophisticated labor and employment law and hoping Venable would share my enthusiasm. During the intervening time, I have been blessed to be able to represent businesses of all sizes in a host of diverse industries. I have seen "hot" employment issues arise, evolve, mature, and recede. Most recently, I have seen the pandemic usher in new challenges and promise to reshape the employment landscape in ways that will persist after the pandemic has faded. Throughout these evolutions, one thing has remained constant: our clients have looked to us to help them solve vexing problems, tactically and strategically, in ways that are both practical and consistent with their business objectives and organizational culture. I consider it an honor to be trusted to assist them in those efforts, and I continue to derive personal satisfaction from doing so time and again with the help of so many colleagues in our group at Venable.

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.