Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law & Employee Benefits practice is committed to providing prompt, practical assistance to clients of all sizes in the areas of private and public sector labor and employment law.

Our attorneys regularly advise clients in all aspects of labor, employment law and employee benefits, including litigation, counseling and training,  immigration law and union management issues. Our attorneys also provide sophisticated investigation services to private and public entities.  Our goal is to help clients develop and maintain employee relations practices that comply with the law and serve their business objectives. We provide effective preventative counseling and aggressively defend our clients’ personnel decisions.  We counsel clients on all aspects of the employment relationship including hiring, discipline and termination.  Additionally, we handle all aspects of employee benefits plans for both taxable and tax-exempt employers.

Our attorneys regularly handle employment matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies throughout the United States. We litigate employment disputes of every type, including discrimination and retaliation claims, trade secret and noncompete agreements, ERISA claims and other contract and employment-related tort claims. We negotiate and draft labor agreements, employment and severance agreements and virtually every type of employment-related documents, including nondisclosure and restrictive covenant agreements, and grievance resolutions.

The attorneys in our Labor, Employment Law & Employee Benefits practice cover developments in labor, employment and employee benefits law in: "Working Together," a blog found at http://workingtogether.pullcomblog.com.

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Working Together Blog

Working Together Blog

The attorneys in our Labor, Employment Law & Employee Benefits practice cover developments in labor, employment and employee benefits law in: "Working Together," a blog found at http://workingtogether.pullcomblog.com.  Our most recent Working Together posts are highlighted below. 

We have been closely monitoring the legal implications of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic for employers, and have been responding to a broad range of client questions. For a complete list of all of our firm's advisories related to COVID-19, please visit our FOCUS-Responding to COVID-19 page.

Dealing with Religious Objections to Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements: The EEOC Issues Clarifying Technical Assistance for Employers – October 22, 2021
On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued long-awaited technical assistance concerning employees’ religious objections to vaccine requirements in the workplace. (The new guidance is Section L of the EEOC’s Q&A document entitled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” which can be found here.)  Though several state governments, and the federal government, have already issued COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employers, the EEOC’s guidance is quite timely as employers continue to face the often-thorny process of assessing religious accommodation requests from their employees.

A Critical Warning to Federal Contractors and Subcontractors with Unvaccinated Employees: Time is Running Out to Comply with President Biden’s Vaccination MandateOctober 22, 2021
On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued Presidential Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors (the EO). In the EO, the President requires that certain contracts with the federal government include a clause that the contractor and any subcontractors (at any tier) comply with all guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force for the duration of the contract. 

New Laws Affecting Employers Go Into Effect October 1 – Are You Ready?September 28, 2021
During the last legislative session, several new laws were passed that affect employers.  A few of them go into effect on Friday, October 1, 2021.  If you have not started preparing for them, now is the time.

COBRA Update: Final COBRA Subsidy Termination Notices Now Due – September 14, 2021
As mentioned in our prior COBRA update, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides for government-subsidized COBRA premium payments. The subsidy is available to COBRA qualified beneficiaries who become eligible for COBRA due to either a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment during the period April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.  These COBRA qualified beneficiaries are referred to as “assistance eligible individuals” (AEI).

Ready or Not: What Employers Need to Know About the Biden Administration’s Upcoming Vaccination and Testing RequirementsSeptember 10, 2021
Earlier this week, the Biden Administration announced plans to implement sweeping new federal COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements which will affect a wide-ranging number of employers and more than 100 million people. These mandates will be executed through various agencies as part of the administration’s COVID-19 Action Plan aimed to address the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.

Breaking . . . Governor Lamont’s New Executive Order # 13A Permits Municipal Leaders to Issue Emergency Orders Requiring Masking in Indoor Settings Regardless of Vaccination Status – August 6, 2021
On August 5, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued a new executive order – Executive Order # 13A – expressly permitting chief executive officers of Connecticut municipalities to issue local emergency orders requiring masking by all persons, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, in all indoor public settings within the municipality.  The new executive order was issued by Governor Lamont in response to July 27, 2021 federal Centers for Disease Control guidance on the emergence of the COVID-19 Delta variant.  The guidance recommended that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public settings in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, based on research suggesting that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals alike can transmit the highly contagious Delta variant.

Connecticut Employers Required to Disclose Wage Ranges to Employees and Job Applicants and Ensure Male and Female Employees Receive Comparable Pay for Comparable Work – August 6, 2021
On June 7, 2021, Governor Lamont signed into law “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position”, which amends Connecticut General Statutes §§ 31-40z and 31-75. As you might have guessed, the law requires employers to disclose the “wage range” for a position to both job applicants and current employees.  Not so obvious is that the law applies to currently filled positions as well, not just those that are vacant. 

Now They Are Finally Finished: Developments from the 2021 Regular and Special Sessions of The Connecticut General Assembly Affecting Employers (Updated July 22, 2021) – July 22, 2021
The 2021 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly concluded on June 9, 2021, and this office provided a summary of relevant employment related legislation.  Subsequently, a “Special Session” took place and concluded on June 17, 2021.  The following summary of employment-related bills has been updated and supplemented in light of the Special Session and the passage of time.

The Aftermath: Developments From The 2021 Session of The Connecticut General Assembly Affecting Employers (Part One) – June 16, 2021
The 2021 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly concluded on June 9, 2021.  This post includes brief descriptions of some of the employment-related bills.

New OSHA COVID-19 Rule and Agency Guidance for Both Healthcare and Non-Healthcare Employers – June 15, 2021
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has finally released its much- anticipated federal COVID-19 safety regulation for employers of healthcare workers

Court Upholds Employer’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy – June 14, 2021
In what is believed to be the first court decision on the issue of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas upheld a hospital’s policy requiring that all of its employees must be vaccinated in order to remain employed.

The EEOC’s Updated Guidance Allows Employers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations (With Some Exceptions), and Clarifies When Employers Can Provide Incentives for Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine – May 28, 2021
On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its long-awaited Guidance on mandatory vaccinations in the workplace.  Here are some highlights.

Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask? What the CDC’s Recent Guidance and the Governor’s Recent Announcements Concerning Fully Vaccinated People Mean for Connecticut Employers – May 18, 2021 – On May 17, Governor Lamont clarified that a new set of COVID-19 safety protocols regarding the use of face masks would be implemented in Connecticut beginning Wednesday, May 19, aligning the state’s guidance with the CDC’s updated recommendations. This article provides an overview.

Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Has Spoken (Part One-COVID-19 Related Bills) – April 23, 2021 – The General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee approved a final flurry of bills prior to its March 30, 2021 deadline for approving and advancing bills out of committee. This post includes a summary of these bills that now await action by the full General Assembly, many of which address COVID-19 related issues.

DOL Proposes to Scrap Employer-Friendly Independent Contractor Rule – March 18, 2021
The Department of Labor (DOL) has officially published its notice proposing to withdraw the new rule – issued two weeks before the change in Presidential Administrations – allowing employers to more easily classify workers as independent contractors under federal law. The rule, entitled “Independent Contractor Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” was considered a major win for employers, and specifically for companies involved in the gig economy.

The CROWN Act: Connecticut Aims to Eliminate Race-Based Hair Discrimination in the Workplace – March 11, 2021
Connecticut has officially joined a handful of states in the country explicitly prohibiting raced-based hair discrimination. On March 4th, Governor Lamont signed into law the CROWN Act – the name is an acronym for “Creating A Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The new law makes it an illegal practice to discriminate based on a person’s hair texture or protective hairstyle in employment, public accommodations, housing, credit practices, union membership, and state agency practices.

Update: DOL Officially Delays Newly Published Rule on Independent Contractors – March 8, 2021
Update: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has officially delayed implementation of its new independent contractor rule. The rule will now take effect on May 7, 2020, instead of the original date of March 8. 

The (Str)Ides of March (Part Two): The Upcoming Easing of Connecticut’s COVID-19 Restrictions (and Impacts Upon Employers) – March 8, 2021
Perhaps due to a combination of the expansion of vaccination availability and the continuing drops in infection rates, Governor Lamont has announced plans to ease some of the COVID-19 related restrictions and protocols in Connecticut. While the Governor has not yet issued any Executive Orders fully explaining and implementing these plans, and while no state agency has yet issued any specific revised protocols, we do know some things regarding the soon-to-be-updated capacity and travel protocols.

Employees Splitting Working Time Between the Office and Home? The DOL Reminds Employers About the Rules on When Commute Time is Compensable in the New Age of Telework – March 3, 2021
One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the increased prevalence of remote work or telework. As more and more people are vaccinated and life returns to something like pre-pandemic normalcy, it is not clear to what extent telework will remain as a regular feature of the American workplace, though it is likely to be more common than before the pandemic. Even for those businesses that are transitioning back to in-person, on-site work, some use of telework is likely to remain. Employees’ ability to perform work either at home or in the office invites employers to consider their wage and hour obligations and remember when travel time is compensable.

The (Str)Ides of March: How Connecticut’s Revised COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule Impacts Employers – March 1, 2021
Until recently, sparse access to the COVID-19 vaccines has rendered discussion of vaccination policies a distant and theoretical exercise for many organizations. The thought process among hesitant employers has largely been that until the majority of their employees were eligible to receive the vaccine, implementing policies governing vaccinations was of minimum importance. For many employers, however, today is that day, as appointments became available for a massive new group of residents and employees age 55 and over.

Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Begins to Speak – March 1, 2021
At its February 18, 2021 meeting, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee began the process of approving bills.  The following is a brief summary of the bills that the Committee voted favorably on and advanced out of committee.

DOL Proposes Delaying Newly Published Rule on Independent Contractors – February 12, 2021
Employers may be disappointed to learn that the Department of Labor’s recently issued rule clarifying the definition of “independent contractor” will likely no longer go into effect on March 8th, 2021. On January 20, the White House issued a regulatory freeze halting all executive agencies, including the Department of Labor (DOL), from proposing or issuing any rule until the new administration reviews and approves it. Moreover, agencies are to “consider postponing” by 60 days the effective dates for any rules published in the Federal Register that have not yet taken effect.

President Biden Issues Executive Order Addressing Sexism and Structural Racism, and Rescinding the Trump Administration’s Diversity Training Restrictions – February 9, 2021
On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order entitled “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”  The Executive Order initially recognizes that  “[e]ntrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our public and private institutions, have often denied … equal opportunity to individuals and communities” and goes on to acknowledge that “[o]ur country faces converging economic, health and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism.” 

Latest Employment & Labor Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: February 9th Public Hearing – February 8, 2021
On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee will conduct a public hearing on numerous proposed bills.  Many of these bills (for example, breastfeeding in the workplace, hair-related discrimination, prevailing wage rates, and call center closures) have been considered in prior legislative sessions but never came to fruition.  Others (such as the cannabis bill) are new attempts at providing for additional employee rights and restricting employer discretion. 

Better Late Than Never: How Employers May (Finally) Benefit from Recent Changes to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – February 2, 2021
Although most everyone on planet Earth was jumping for joy as 2020 came to an end, many employers had another reason to celebrate. With the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”) on December 27, 2020, employers with 500 or fewer employees (“Covered Employers”) are no longer required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) to provide paid leave to employees for certain COVID-19 related reasons.

When Push Comes to Shove: Should Employers Require Their Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?January 26, 2021
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, employers are increasingly struggling to determine whether they should implement a vaccine policy and, if so, whether they will require or strongly recommend that their employees receive it. 

Competitor “No Poach Agreements” Can Lead to Criminal Prosecutions, Fines and Jail Time – January 14, 2021
“No poach” agreements — agreements between two or more competitors that neither will recruit or hire the other’s employees – have long been held to violate the antitrust laws.  The United States Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission issued guidance in 2016 making clear that such agreements are forbidden. 

US DOL Issues New Enforcement Guidance on Electronic Workplace Posters and Telemedicine under the FMLA – January 11, 2021
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued two Field Assistance Bulletins in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Bulletin provides guidance on when employers can satisfy certain federal workplace poster obligations electronically. The second Bulletin describes when a telemedicine visit may count as an in-person visit to establish a serious health condition under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

California Judge Halts President Trump’s Workplace Diversity Training Order – January 5, 2021
You may recall from my earlier blog that a group of organizations and individuals who specialize in the delivery of high-quality health care and other critical services to members of the LGBT community filed suit in California to enjoin the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order 13950 seeking to combat “offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.”  The judge in that case has now issued a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the Executive Order’s application to federal contractors, nonprofits and other recipients of federal funding. 

EEOC Issues Guidance on Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates – December 18, 2020
Last week, in our sister blog, Education Law Notes, we addressed the ability of an employer to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for its staff.  As discussed in that post, we were awaiting updated federal guidance that would specifically address the COVID-19 vaccine. As if on cue, on December 16, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued “technical assistance” guidance addressing several COVID-19 related issues, including an employer vaccine mandate. 

What You Need to Know Now About the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act December 11, 2020
The Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted into law last year and applies to most Connecticut employers with at least one employee.  While employees won’t be eligible to use paid leave until January 2022, the funding to support the paid leave will come from employee payroll deductions that begin on January 1, 2021, and beginning in 2021, employers must remit these funds on a quarterly basis to the CT Paid Leave Authority.

Qualifying for Quicker Quarantine: How Recent Changes to CDC Guidance May Allow Employers to Safely Return Employees Exposed to COVID-19 to Work in Less Than 14 Days – December 10, 2020
Employers should be aware that the CDC recently revised its quarantine guidelines for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

A Cautionary Tale for Retirement Plan Sponsors' Avoidable Late Filing Penalties – December 9, 2020
Do you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Tin Man were walking into the forest chanting “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”?  I could not help but mutter “oh my” under my breath when I heard the following story, especially because of the concern that the smallest of small businesses would be hit the hardest by the increased late filing penalties for retirement plan sponsors enacted in the SECURE Act last December.

President Trump’s Ban on “Anti-American” Diversity Training Faces Two Legal Challenges November 12, 2020
On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order seeking to combat “offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” As described in my previous blog post, this order expanded a ban – announced a few weeks earlier — on “un-American” social sensitivity training at federal agencies to also include all federal contractors and grant recipients.  The Executive Order now faces two separate legal challenges from a host of prominent civil rights organizations.

Supreme Court’s Sulyma Decision Creates Proof of Actual Knowledge Issue for Plan FiduciariesNovember 4, 2020
Since its adoption the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), has required employee benefit plan sponsors to make disclosures regarding plan terms and plan expenses.  The most well-known of these disclosure is the Summary Plan Description.  The number of disclosures that plan sponsors are required to provide has increased over time.  

Executive Order 9I Exempts Travel to New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island from Affected State COVID-19 Quarantine List – October 30, 2020
As COVID-19 test positivity rates in Connecticut become more ominous and the long-feared fall “second wave” rears its ugly head,  Governor Lamont’s executive orders regarding travel into Connecticut continue to evolve.  The Governor’s latest executive order on travel into Connecticut – Executive Order 9I – was issued on October 27, 2020 and effectively exempts the states of New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island from quarantine restrictions by removing these states from the “Affected State” travel restriction list regardless of their COVID-19 test positivity rates.

Executive Order Puts Federal Contractors and Grant Recipients on Notice: End “Divisive” Diversity Training or Risk Being Barred from Doing Business with the Federal Government – October 21, 2020
On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order On Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.  This order expanded a ban on “un-American” racial sensitivity training at federal agencies to now include all federal contractors and grant recipients. 

Dispelling Some Myths in Responding to COVID-19 Incidents: Close Contacts, Quarantines, and Tests (and Ignoring the Noise). – October 6, 2020
As an attorney representing Connecticut employers, I have received numerous calls from clients concerning how to properly respond to COVID-19 incidents. Even now, seven months since the start of the pandemic and four months since Connecticut began to “reopen,” employers are unsure of what is necessary to minimize risk to employees and others.  In light of these lingering issues, and some frankly non-compliant behaviors from many of our political leaders, it may be worthwhile to look again at what are considered “best practices,” specifically in the context of responding to situations where someone has been in “close contact” with a person or persons with COVID-19.  

Putting Employers Back in the Driver's Seat? How the Governor's Latest Executive Order May Restore Connecticut's Employers' Ability to Manage Out-of-State Employee Travel – September 16, 2020
Connecticut employers have been given more power to avoid business disruption when employees travel to COVID-19 “hot spots.”  On September 15, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order No. 9B containing revised protocols for persons entering Connecticut from states with COVID-19 infection rates higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a seven-day rolling average test positivity rate above 10%.

Critical Update for Employers: U.S. Department of Labor Significantly Narrows the Definition of "Health Care Provider" for Purposes of Exempting Employees from Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – September 15, 2020
On September 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced revised regulations significantly narrowing the definition of “health care provider” under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The revision came in response to an August 3, 2020 decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which held that the DOL’s original regulation defining “health care provider” was so expansive that it was inconsistent with the statute.

EEOC Issues More Guidance on the ADA and COVID-19 in the Workplace – September 10, 2020
On September 8, 2020, the EEOC once again updated its guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Coronavirus pandemic.  EEOC Updated Guidance.  The new document, through a question and answer format, expands the EEOC’s prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic.

DOL Says That Parents Who Opt Out of In-Person Learning Cannot Use Paid FFCRA Leave, But May Use the Leave for Remote Days Where a School is Using a Hybrid Model – September 1, 2020
The U.S. DOL issued additional guidance on August 27, 2020 as to when employees may use paid Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) leave to care for their children under different COVID-related school models. 

Quirky Quarantine Quandary: The New Changes to Connecticut’s Travel Advisory That May Leave Employers with More Questions Than Answers – July 24, 2020
On July 21, 2020, Governor Lamont signed Executive Order 7III, strengthening the travel advisory he issued on June 24.

Don’t Hand Off the Handbook: Why Employers Must Prioritize Updating Workplace Policies – July 21, 2020 
As most employers know firsthand, the host of complicated rules and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges in recent months. Although employers have generally been quick to adopt and enforce policies addressing COVID-19-related issues, the rapidly changing guidance has also necessitated swift revisions as best practices and requirements continue to change from day to day.

Pandemic Pandemonium (Summer Vacation Edition): How the Governor’s Latest Executive Order Complicates FFCRA Leave for Employers – July 6, 2020
Last week, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7BBB, instructing all travelers entering Connecticut from states experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infection to self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidance. While these restrictions certainly complicate travel and vacation plans for employees, the E.O. also raises concerns for employers.

The EEOC Issues New Guidance Regarding Antibody Testing in the Wake of COVID-19 – June 19, 2020
On June 17, 2020, the EEOC updated an FAQ list with new guidance stating that employers may not use antibody tests in deciding whether to return employees to work. 

EEOC Makes Clear That COVID-19 Cannot be Used to Justify Discrimination Against Employees Based on Age or Other Characteristics – June 16, 2020
The EEOC makes it clear that COVID-19 is not an excuse to discriminate against employees who are over the age of 65, pregnant, or otherwise protected from discrimination, even when decisions are made with the intent to protect the employees’ health.

Supreme Court Extends Title VII Protections to Gay and Transgender Employees in Bostock v. Clayton County – June 15, 2020
In a landmark ruling that is both one of the most important employment-discrimination cases in years and a watershed victory for LGBTQ rights, on June 15, 2020 the United States Supreme Court held by a 6-3 vote that “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender” violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Connecticut Announces Rules for Phase 2 of Reopening – June 8, 2020
On June 6, 2020, Governor Lamont announced the rules for the second phase of Connecticut’s reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, planned to take effect on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

Returning the Reluctant Employee to Work: How the Governor’s Latest Executive Order May Allow Employees Who Refuse to Return to Work to Collect Unemployment Benefits – June 4, 2020
In determining if work is suitable, Executive Order 7UU requires the DOL  to “consider the degree of risk to the individual’s health or, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the health of a member of that individual’s household.”

Crystal Clear Compliance: Connecticut Outlines How COVID-19 Sector Rules Will Be Enforced Against Non-Compliant Businesses – May 26, 2020
Local health officials, local law enforcement, cities, and towns will be primarily responsible for enforcing the Sector Rules and other public health regulations. Businesses may be inspected to ensure compliance, and employees, customers, residents, and visitors are being encouraged to report bona fide violations to local law enforcement.

Tips from the Tax Man: A Reminder to Employers About the New Tax Credits Available – May 21, 2020
The IRS recently released guidance reminding employers about three new refundable tax credits that may be available to businesses impacted by COVID-19. As businesses prepare to reopen, these tax credits can provide employers with valuable resources to maximize their budgets and bring employees back to work quickly.

UPDATE: OSHA Backtracks from April Policy that Exempted Most Employers from Tracking Workers’ COVID-19 Infections – May 20, 2020
On May 19, 2020, OSHA issued new guidance advising employers of a significant change in recording requirements when employees contract COVID-19, clarifying that all employers who are required to maintain OSHA injury and illness logs (often referred to as OSHA 300 Logs) must record work-related cases of COVID-19.

Certain CT Businesses Permitted to Open May 20 with Restrictions – May 11, 2020
On May 9, 2020, Governor Lamont announced rules for the reopening of certain non-essential businesses in the state on May 20. This alert provides an overview of the first phase of Connecticut’s reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes outdoor restaurants, offices, retail stores, outdoor museums and zoos.

Don’t Ask: New Department of Labor Guidance Restricts Employers from Requiring Documentation from Employees Seeking Paid Leave Under the FFCRA – May 8, 2020
On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor added questions 89-93 to its list of FAQs about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which provide guidance about the Act’s paid sick leave and expanded family medical leave provisions; #92 significantly reduces an employer’s ability to request documentation from employees seeking leave under the FFCRA.

IRS Issues FAQs Regarding CARES Act Distributions and Loans from Employee Benefit Plans – May 7, 2020
An overview of new questions and answers issued by the IRS on May 4, 2020, regarding coronavirus-related relief for participants in retirement plans and IRAs.

CHRO Offers Extension of Deadline for Employers to Provide Sexual Harassment Training to New Employees – May 6, 2020
Under Connecticut’s “Time’s Up Act,” all employers with three or more employees must provide a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all employees prior to October 1, 2020, or within six months of hire. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, the CHRO has extended the deadline for training new employees (hired after October 1, 2019).

More Disaster Relief for Employee Benefit Plans Due to COVID-19 – May 4, 2020
On April 28, 2020, the Employee Benefits Security Administration issued three documents related to COVID-19 relief; this post provides an overview of one of the three, EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-20 (EBSA Notice 2020-01).

Yes, We’re Open: Important Considerations for Employers Preparing to Reopen in a Post-COVID-19 World – April 30, 2020
Having adequate policies and protocols in place is critical both to keeping employees safe in the workplace and to reducing employers’ potential exposure to liability should employees contract COVID-19 after returning to work.

Update: July 15, 2020 is the Last Day for Making IRA and HSA Contributions – April 29, 2020
IRA and HSA contributions for the 2019 tax year can be made up until July 15, 2020, the extended date for filing and paying 2019 individual income taxes.

What Steps to Take When an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 – April 28, 2020
A summary of guidance from the CDC and other sources that will provide employers with a game plan to keep both employees and workplaces safe and help avoid legal exposure. 

Obliging OSHA: How New COVID-19 Guidance Impacts Employers’ Workplace Recordkeeping and Reporting Obligations – April 24, 2020
In complying with OSHA’s requirements, employers should keep in mind that an illness like COVID-19 is characterized as work-related, and therefore reportable to OSHA, if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to it or aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.

The Latest Guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Paid Leave (and Some Common Questions) – April 24, 2020
Answers to some commonly asked questions in light of recently issued Department of Labor guidance.

DECD’s Safe Workplace Rules Regarding “Face-Coverings” and Executive Order 7BB – April 22, 2020
Apparently responding to common sense concerns, the DECD revised its Rules on April 21 with respect to situations where employees are outdoors or in discrete indoor settings.

The EEOC Issues Yet More Guidance on the ADA Accommodations and COVID-19 – April 22, 2020
As the country starts discussing the possibility of businesses reopening, the EEOC has, again, updated its guidance on COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This third installment focuses heavily on accommodation of employees in the time of COVID-19 and is an extension to the agency’s prior Q&A.

Governor Lamont’s Executive Order Requiring Face Coverings: Its Impact Upon Employers – April 20, 2020
On April 17, 2020, Governor Lamont issued EO 7BB requiring persons to wear “face-coverings” (e.g., masks) in public, effective as of 8:00 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020.

EEOC Issues More Guidance on ADA and the Coronavirus – April 14, 2020
The EEOC has again revised its guidance on the ADA and the coronavirus in the workplace, providing further guidance designed to protect employees’ medical information and prevent discrimination while allowing employers to continue to comply with the CDC’s guidance regarding protecting workers’ health.

The Scope of the “Health Care Providers” Exclusion from the FFCRA Leave Laws – April 8, 2020
On April 6, 2020, the U.S Department of Labor published a “Temporary Rule” in the Federal Register implementing the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA, including a section concerning health care employers’ option to exclude “health care providers” from the paid leaves provided by the Act. 

The $600 Question: Which Furloughed or Laid Off Employees Are Eligible for Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Under the CARES Act? – March 31, 2020
The CARES Act provides an additional $600 in federally-funded dollars each week to the unemployment compensation benefit of each eligible worker. 

Remote Inspection of I-9 Documents Now Permitted in Limited Circumstances During Coronavirus Emergency – March 31, 2020
ICE has announced that effective immediately, “employers taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19” will be temporarily allowed to review new employees’ “section 2” documents remotely when completing I-9 forms.

Mobilizing the National Guard Against COVID-19: A Primer on Employer Obligations Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act – March 31, 2020
Nearly 10,000 National Guardsmen have been called up across the United States to perform a variety of missions in support of efforts to combat COVID-19.  What does this mean for employers who have employees activated by the National Guard or Reserve to take part in these response efforts? 

The CARES Act Impacts Qualified Retirement Plans and IRAs: Temporary Relief for Employees, Plan Participants and IRA Owners – March 31, 2020
A summary of key provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that affect retirement plans.

No Coronavirus-Related Furloughs of H-1B Employees – March 30, 2020
Many employers financially strained by the coronavirus outbreak are considering employee furloughs rather than outright layoffs, especially given the hopefully short duration of the crisis.  This is generally impossible in the case of H-1B employees, however, due to the Department of Labor’s “no-benching” rule.

Families First Coronavirus Relief Act Notice Must Be Posted by April 1, 2020 – DOL Poster Should Be Posted at Worksites AND Emailed or Mailed to Teleworking Employees – March 29, 2020
On March 26, 2020, the federal Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released a new model notice that employers must use to satisfy FFCRA’s employee notice obligations.

The CT DOL’S Shared Work Program Might Reduce Labor Costs Without Permanent Layoffs – March 24, 2020
With the impact of COVID-19, many employers are confronting a loss of demand for their goods and services and facing the prospect of laying off employees.  Connecticut employers may have another option: the Shared Work Program.

Small and Mid-Size Businesses Should be Able to Swiftly Recover the Cost of Providing Coronavirus Related Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – March 24, 2020
Eligible Employers have two ways in which the cost of paid leave related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act may be recouped.

DECD Guidance on Connecticut Governor’s Executive Order 7H – March 23, 2020
On March 22, 2020, the Connecticut DECD issued legally binding guidance about which businesses are deemed essential in accordance with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7H; here is a summary of its more salient provisions.

Connecticut DECD Issues Guidance on Businesses Considered “Essential” for Purposes of Governor’s Executive Order – March 22, 2020
The Office of the Governor worked with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to develop guidance for all businesses relating to the Governor’s Executive Order suspending “Non-Essential In-Person Business Operations.”  The guidance, issued March 22, can be found here.

EEOC Clarifies That Employers May Temperature-Test Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic - March 22, 2020
The EEOC recently updated its guidance to allow more medical testing in the workplace, including clear guidance that checking employees’ temperatures is allowed in light of the current pandemic.

Initial Guidance on the Governor’s Executive Order on the Closure of “Non-Essential Businesses”- March 21, 2020
Governor Lamont's latest Executive Order calls for all non-essential businesses and not for profit entities to reduce their in-person workforces at any workplace by 100% by 8 p.m. on March 23, 2020.

A COVID-19 “WARN-ing” for Employers: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act Still Applies to Certain Layoffs and Plant Closures – March 20, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has already forced many companies to lay off employees, and others will be doing so in the days and weeks ahead.  Those companies must consider whether compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”) is necessary.

Potential Immigration Compliance Issues Raised by Coronavirus Travel Restrictions, Work-from-Home Policies, and Layoffs – March 20, 2020
As the spread of COVID-19 prompts increasing travel restrictions, and as layoffs become an unfortunate reality in many industries, both U.S. employers and employees holding temporary work visas in the United States need to be aware of potential immigration-law complications.  Here are some initial considerations.

UPDATE: What Will the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" Mean for Employers? – March 19, 2020
On March 18 the Senate passed and the President signed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”  Here is a brief summary of what two of its provisions – the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act – will mean for employers.

How to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act During a Pandemic – March 17, 2020
Employers must make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities that would have increased risks from contracting COVID-19 - as long as what is being requested is a reasonable accommodation that would allow the employee to continue to perform their essential job functions without causing the employer undue hardship.

CMS FAQ re Essential Health Coverage and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) – March 17, 2020
On March 12, 2020, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight issued an FAQ regarding coverage for diagnosis and

Guidance for Employers on Accommodating the Child Care Needs of Employees Amidst COVID-19 School Closures – March 16, 2020
With the closure of Connecticut schools, and potential closure of daycare facilities in the future, now is the time for employers to decide how they will accommodate employees in need of child care.

What Will the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” Mean for Employers? - March 16, 2020
This post was updated in a March 19 alert found here.

ALERT: Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and COVID-19 - March 13, 2020
The United States Department of Labor has issued “COVID-19 or other Public Health Emergencies and the Family and Medical Leave Act Questions and Answers” providing clarifications regarding Federal FMLA coverage.

IRS Guidance:  High Deductible Health Plans May Waive Deductible for COVID-19 Testing - March 13, 2020
Employers and health plans that want to provide some relief for participants during the spread of COVID-19 may waive deductibles for COVID-19 testing without violating IRS high deductible health plan rules.

Coronavirus and the Workplace - Employers Considering Taking Employees' Temperature at Work Should Proceed with Caution - March 12, 2020
Employers contemplating this measure should proceed with caution and consider a number of issues before temperature-testing their employees.

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