Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed into law Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 21, effective Sept. 1, which expand liability for sexual harassment. The laws cover all employers with one or more employees, whereas current law exempts employers with fewer than 15 employees.
The Texas Sexual Harassment Act potentially creates individual liability for managers. An “unlawful employment practice” occurs if there is sexual harassment of an employee, “and the employer or employer’s agents or supervisors (1) know or should have known that the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring; and (2) fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.” Further, the statute of limitations will be expanded from 180 to 300 days. Employers should prepare by training their executives to recognize incidents of sexual harassment, and when and how to report, and update company policies to ensure compliance with the new laws, particularly with respect to reporting.
ARPA COBRA Notices Coming Due Soon
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included new notice obligations that were imposed on employers and plan administrators, including a notice of expiration that must be provided no sooner than 45 days and no later than 15 days before the expiration of the COBRA premium assistance period from April 1 to Sept. 30. Assistance eligible individuals whose COBRA premium assistance is expiring on Sept. 30 must be provided with a notice of expiration of premium assistance meeting specific requirements under ARPA between Aug. 16 and Sept. 15. The U.S. Department of Labor has published a model notice that employers and plan administrators may use for this purpose.
AZ AG Says Mandatory Vaccines Are Lawful
Private businesses in Arizona can require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID, but must allow reasonable religious and medical exemptions under state and federal law, according to a recent legal opinion by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. In his opinion, Brnovich also said businesses can impose vaccine requirements on patrons, as long as they provide reasonable accommodation for customers who cannot or will not take a vaccine because of a disability or religious requirements.
DC COVID Leave Extended
DC’s COVID leave laws have been extended through Nov. 5. Under this law, DC employers must provide employees who have been employed for at least 30 days with up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if the employee is unable to work due to specified reasons related to COVID, including a health care provider’s recommendation of quarantine or isolation for the employee or a household member for whom the employee needs to care, school closures, and the unavailability of the employee’s child care provider.
In addition, those with between 50 and 499 employees also must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees employed for at least 15 days for any of the reasons for which federal paid leave was available under the now-expired FFCRA. These leaves generally are in addition to other leaves to which employees are entitled under the DC Family and Medical Leave Act and the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act. However, no new leave entitlements have been created for employees who already received qualifying leave earlier in the pandemic.
E-Verify Hall Pass Ends
Employers with TNCs that have remained open for more than 10 federal government workdays have received notifications from E-Verify asking them to take action to resolve the open TNCs and reminding the employers of the possible consequences of noncompliance. Recent indications are that E-Verify may cut off employer access to E-Verify after 30 days if the government does not see sufficient follow up.
Written by: Gordon M. Berger, Partner
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