The Biden administration on Thursday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to do away with injunctions blocking the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for certain health care workers, arguing that the move was “squarely within” the federal government’s authority and is necessary to save lives.
ICE Announces Extension to Form I-9 Compliance Flexibility
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance that was initially granted last year. Due to the continued precautions related to Covid-19, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will extend this policy until April 30, 2022. This extension will continue to apply the guidance previously issued for employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, and work exclusively in a remote setting due to Covid-19-related precautions. Those employees are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) until they undertake nonremote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.
Texas Vaccine Ban Update
On December 8, 2021, the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) sent a letter to all employers in the state of Texas setting forth its position on Executive Order GA-40. The letter reminds Texas employers that they cannot impose vaccine mandates on an employee who qualifies for an exemption based on religious, personal (personal conscience), or medical reasons, including exemptions for personal conscience.
If a TX employer terminates an employee for refusing a vaccine and does not provide the employee an opportunity to claim an exemption, then the employee will likely be able to collect unemployment benefits, which, as the TWC reminds employers, will have an impact on chargebacks and experience ratings.
EEOC Says COVID-19’s Lingering Effects May Fall Under ADA
A person who experiences “ongoing but intermittent” headaches or brain fog stemming from COVID may have a disability protected by federal law, the EEOC said Tuesday in new guidance that outlined how the virus and its effects can fall within the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Philly Bans Pot Testing
On January 1, 2022, “Prohibition on Testing for Marijuana as a Condition for Employment,” Phila. Code § 9-5500, et seq., will take effect. The ordinance makes it an “unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency or agent thereof” to require a prospective employee to submit to pre-employment marijuana testing as a condition of employment. The ordinance does not address marijuana testing with respect to current employees, and it does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for being under the influence of marijuana while working or possessing marijuana in the workplace.
New Jersey Minimum Wage Set to Increase
The minimum wage in New Jersey for most employers will increase to $13/hr effective Jan. 1, 2022. For seasonal and small employers (fewer than six employees), the minimum wage will increase to $11.90/hr. The schedule of increases can be found here. Employers also should be sure to post the updated minimum wage poster, which can be accessed here.
New Jersey CEPA and Gender Equity Notices
Employers with 10 or more employees, regardless of where those employees work, must distribute annually the required notice under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, which can be accessed here. On or before Dec. 31, employers with 50 or more employees, regardless of whether those employees work in New Jersey or outside the state, must provide employees with a Gender Equity Notice, which can be accessed here.
North Carolina Labor Law Poster Update
The NC DOL has updated the required Labor Law Posters based on recent legislative changes. The new posters, with an effective date of Nov. 29, 2021, include the recent amendment to NC’s Wage and Hour Act. Those amendments require that employers provide written notice to new hires of promised wages, day and location of wage payment (if wages are delivered in person), and method of payment; notify employees in writing at least one pay period prior to any changes in promised wages; and send final paychecks through regular pay channels or by trackable mail if requested by the employee in writing.
Gordon M. Berger Partner