Employment Law Updates

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in recent years has issued a series of decisions protecting employee statements that included profane, sexist or racist comments, if those statements were made while employees were participating in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Among other things, the NLRA protects employees' rights to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment. For example, the NLRB ruled that racist remarks made while picketing and a profane social media tirade were protected. Disciplinary action for an employee’s exercise of protected activity is prohibited.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised and expanded its guidelines concerning what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person. Under prior guidance, the CDC defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person, thus putting the person at higher risk of contracting the virus. The CDC’s updated guidance defines a close contact as:

As we discussed in our previous blogs, the new workplace safety rules adopted by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board in response to the coronavirus pandemic are now in effect.  The final text of the regulations known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is posted on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website at:

In response to a federal court decision, the U.S. Department of Labor has revised its guidance concerning the paid leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to pay certain amounts of sick leave related to coronavirus, as summarized in the poster found at the DOL website link:

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf.

Employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles) should be aware of the newly-revised FMLA forms posted by the U.S. Department of Labor on its website. Here are the links to the new forms, including:

As part of the new Virginia Values Act, a new Virginia Code section extends discrimination protections to pregnant employees. The law applies to employers with 5 or more employees and prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or “related medical conditions” including lactation. It applies to job applicants as well as employees. The new statute can be found at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/2.2-3909/.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued revised guidance concerning how long employers should require employees to stay at home after testing positive for Covid-19. Based on evolving medical information about the infectious period of coronavirus, the new guidance reduces the quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days in most cases.

Our previous blogs discussed the new workplace safety rules adopted by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The regulations are known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), and are now in effect after yesterday’s publication in the Richmond Times Dispatch. The final text is posted on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website at:

On July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted the new set of workplace safety rules that had been proposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under direction of Governor Northam, and because the federal OSHA agency has not implemented any such regulations, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry drafted the regulations known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The text of the standard is being finalized and will be posted on the Department’s website as soon as it is available, but it is anticipated that it will take the same form as originally proposed: emergency temporary standard . The ETS will take immediate effect upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Richmond, which the Department anticipates will occur during the week of July 27.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has proposed a new set of workplace safety rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under direction of Governor Northam, and because the federal OSHA agency has not implemented any such regulations, the Virginia Department has drafted regulations which the state Safety and Health Codes Board has adopted on an emergency basis. The emergency temporary standard must be given final approval by the Board after receiving public comment.

In previous blogs we have discussed in detail some of the many new employment laws enacted in the Virginia General Assembly’s 2020 session. Here is a reminder of some of those laws that will go into effect July 1.

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