Several updates related to COVID-19 vaccination mandates occurred this week at the federal and local levels. On December 17, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on the federal government’s mandate that employees of covered employers receive a COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing. In addition, New York City’s vaccination mandate for private employers takes effect on December 27th. Click here to read on.
On October 28, 2021, New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, signed legislation protecting employees who report illegal or dangerous business activities from retaliation by their employers. Read all about it here.
In response to COVID-19 vaccination mandates and employer-mandated vaccination policies, federal agencies continue to issue guidance. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have released additional guidance addressing common employer concerns regarding vaccination status, discrimination, and reasonable accommodations. Continue Reading.
Two decisions issued by different federal courts in New York on the same day. In one, the court found that New York State could not mandate vaccinations for healthcare workers without considering religious objections. In the other, the court rejected the public school teachers’ argument that New York City was hostile to teachers’ religious objections. Click here to read all about it.
The CDC is encouraging employers to appoint “vaccination ambassadors” to motivate employees to get vaccinated. Although I’m sure that the CDC has good intentions, this latest pronouncement is fraught with pitfalls. This is just my opinion, of course, but here are the problems I see:
- Vaccination ambassadors are also employees and are being encouraged by the CDC to share their vaccination experiences with other employees, who are reticent about getting vaccinated. Sounds nice, right? What could possibly go wrong? Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be requiring any employee to disclose anything about their own medical condition, and discussions about vaccines could end up in that territory. It’s one thing to say that the “shot doesn’t hurt,” but the ambassador should not be discussing medical conditions (or religious beliefs).
- Employees may ask the vaccination ambassador about the effect of the vaccine on their own medical conditions or concerns. Unless the ambassador is a physician (and even then, it’s probably not a good idea), the ambassador should not be opining on side-effects or other consequences of taking the vaccine.
OSHA just recently posted new guidance intended to inform employers and workers in identifying risks of exposure to COVID-19. You shouldn’t miss this one. Click the following link to read all about it. OSHA Issues New Guidance on COVID-19.
Over the last month, my colleagues and I at Murtha Cullina have been blogging about the myriad federal and state statutes and regulations addressing COVID-19 issues in the workplace. At times, we’ve had to revise and update our blogs to reflect the latest agency guidance on these issues. Rather than re-post those blogs here, I invite you to visit our Employment Law Perspectives blog for the latest employment law information on the COVID-19 pandemic, including the eventual reopening the workplace. Thanks!
Over the last few weeks, our Labor & Employment Group has published blogs addressing federal and state developments involving COVID-19 issues affecting the workplace. Rather than publish those resources separately here, because that would be redundant of course, I invite you to visit our Group’s Employment Perspectives blog. Stay safe.
On the heels of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law yesterday, New York State has enacted broad legislation extending paid sick leave benefits to employees. The extent of paid sick leave is determined by employer size and revenue, and can be utilized by employees whether they are sick, or absent from work because of a “mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation” issued by “the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.” All of New York City is currently subject to such an order.
Under the legislation:
- Employees of small employers (1-10 employees) with annual revenue under $1 million receive unpaid sick days and job protection, and qualify for state-funded paid family leave and disability benefits.