Monday, July 27, 2020

Virginia Becomes the First State to Enact Coronavirus Workplace Safety Measures

By Jessica Summers, Principal

On July 15, Virginia became the first state to enact mandated COVID-19 workplace safety rules.  This move, which other states are expected to follow, is largely seen as a response to the fact that, while the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put out discretionary guidance, it has not answered calls to issue any COVID-19-specific mandatory rules.  Unfortunately, as states take matters into their own hands, a further patchwork of COVID-19 related rules may create additional headaches for multi-jurisdictional businesses, like many in the DMV. 

Maryland Businesses with 50+ Employees – Don’t Forget to Submit Your Sexual Harassment Disclosure Survey by July 1

By Jessica Summers, Principal

Here’s something many businesses may have forgotten about.  Just over two years ago, Maryland enacted the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018.   See our prior blog for full details.  The law, which went into effect on October 1, 2018, was in direct response to the Me Too movement.  The central provision of the law is a prohibition against any agreement or contract that asks an individual to waive any substantive or procedural rights for claims of sexual harassment or related retaliation occurring after agreement has been signed.  However, many employers may have forgotten that the law also includes a reporting requirement for businesses with 50 or more employees, which requires such businesses to submit two surveys about their sexual harassment settlements to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. 

What the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act Means for Businesses with PPP Loans

By Jessica Summers, Principal

On Friday (June 5, 2020), the President signed into law the new Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the “PPPFA”) 

In a nutshell, the PPPFA, which is intended to provide more flexibility for businesses that had to remain fully or partially closed after receiving a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, does the following: 

New Maryland Laws Expand Employees and Job Applicants’ Access to Wage Information & Prohibit Discrimination Against Natural Hairstyles

By Hayes Edwards, Associate

Three bills of particular note for Maryland employers are set to take effect on October 1, 2020.

New DOL/IRS Rule Tolls Key ERISA Benefit Deadlines

By Jessica Summers, Principal

On May 4, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) jointly published a new final rule intended to help ERISA plan participants and beneficiaries retain their ERISA rights or claims during the COVID-19 crisis. The bottom line – the rule tolls key ERISA deadlines and timeframes for the duration of what the DOL/IRS define as the “Outbreak Period.” The Outbreak Period will extend from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the end of the declared COVID-19 National Emergency or another date the IRS and DOL might later identify.

D.C. Greatly Expands Eligibility For Unpaid Leave & Unemployment Benefits

By Hayes Edwards, Associate

The COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was passed on March 17th, 2020, eliminating restrictions on eligibility for unpaid leave under the DC Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during periods of quarantine or isolation, and providing unemployment benefits to workers adversely affected by the public health emergency, among other emergency measures effective for 90 days.

COVID-19 and Unemployment Claims in the DMV

By Jessica Summers, Principal

As businesses across our region grapple with how to handle the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, questions abound about what impact a business’ decisions will have on its employees’ eligibility for unemployment benefits. Here’s a guide to where things currently stand in the DMV:

Considering a Layoff or Furlough? Be Aware of Pending Legislation That May Change Your Assessment

By Jessica Summers, Principal

As we previously reported, on March 18, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) which provides paid leave for certain employees who need to be out for qualifying reasons because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Now, Congress is considering additional legislation that could have serious implications for employers who are contemplating a potential layoff or furlough of employees.

Federal Government Requires Small Businesses to Provide Paid Leave During COVID-19 Outbreak

By Scott Mirsky, Principal

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and the President promptly signed the legislation. While many questions remain unanswered, the law will go into effect on April 2, 2020.

We have prepared the following summary that highlights the major points of the legislation as it relates to an employer’s obligations to provide paid leave. A flyer containing these highlights can be downloaded here.