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Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Do Not Include Political, Social, Economic Beliefs, According to EEOC

On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It required employers of 100 or more employees to institute mandates requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19—or require weekly testing of its employees. That same day, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) similarly issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) requiring the workforces of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order for Medicare and Medicaid facilities to continue participation in those programs. Many employers have also instituted COVID-19 vaccination mandates for their employees separate from OSHA’s ETS and CMS’s IFR. More ›

Florida Governor DeSantis Wants Florida Legislature to Pass Law Against Federal Vaccine Mandates

At a press conference on October 21, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called on the Florida legislature to pass a law combating federal vaccine mandates. He also called on the legislature to hold a special legislative session to pass such a law, instead of waiting until the legislature resumes its normal session next year. Governor DeSantis believes legislation is necessary because an executive order against employer vaccine mandates may not be sufficient. More ›

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Issues Executive Order Prohibiting Mandatory Vaccination Policies

This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott handed out the nation's most extensive ban against mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies. Executive Order No. GA-40 prohibits any Texas employer from issuing COVID-19 mandates for employees or consumers. Specifically, the Order disallows any "entity" from compelling receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine for persons – employees or consumers – "who object to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19." More ›

Florida Boosts Minimum Wage Rate, Mandates Reporting Requirements for Businesses Using Independent Contractors

On September 30, 2021, Florida’s hourly minimum wage rate increased from $8.56 to $10.00. For the next five years, the hourly minimum wage in Florida will increase by $1.00 each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour in 2026. This increase came as the result of Amendment 2, passed on November 3, 2020, by an overwhelming majority of Florida voters. More ›

Reacting to COVID-19 Delta Variant Outbreaks, OSHA Issues Updated Guidance

The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated guidance on August 13, 2021, to assist employers in protecting workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk of contracting the virus. The guidance consists primarily of recommendations and seeks to align its approach with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC and OSHA guidance interact, but Employers have a specific legal obligation under OSHA to provide a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. More ›

Guidance on Intersection Between ADA Workplace Accommodation and COVID Long-Haulers

Employees and employers now find themselves well into year two of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, some people who contract COVID-19 do not fully recover. Known as "COVID long-haulers," these individuals suffer from a range of conditions that persist well beyond when they first contracted the virus. The impacts of "long-COVID" have left some individuals disabled, by definition, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state and local laws. However, not every condition will qualify. Below, we consider steps employers can take to ensure they're providing appropriate accommodations and mitigating potential litigation. More ›

Texas Two-Step: State Passes Employee-Friendly Legislation

The 2021 regular session of the Texas Legislature produced two employee-friendly bills that found their way to the Governor's desk and were signed into law. Both laws will go into effect on September 1, 2021. More ›

The Scabby Saga Continues

The battle over Scabby the Rat took another turn on July 21, 2021, when the National Labor Relations Board issued its anticipated decision and order in International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 and Lippert Components, Inc.

Scabby is a large, 12-foot-high inflatable rat with red eyes, menacing fangs, and claws. Unions often use it to inform the public that they have a dispute with a non-union employer. The rat often is used in construction trades when a non-union contractor provides services at a worksite. Additionally, as part of street theatre, many unions use the rat—along with large banners and union representatives standing nearby—to publicize their disputes with non-union employers, known as the primary employer for labor law purposes. More ›

Employers Should No Longer Rely on Their Policies Alone to Support a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim Against Current or Former Employees

On June 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Van Buren v. U.S. addressing a long-standing circuit split on employee computer access limits under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). For many years the federal courts struggled with and disagreed over how to interpret the CFAA provisions that impose criminal and civil liability on a person who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access." 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(2). The phrase "exceeds authorized access" is defined by the CFAA as follows: "To access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter." 18 U.S.C. §1030(e)(6). Unlike the typical employment scenario, the Van Buren case involved a police officer who used his access to a law enforcement database to search a license plate in exchange for $5,000.00 that was offered to him as part of a planned FBI investigation. The police officer was charged with a felony violation of the CFAA based on the allegation that his license plate search violated the "exceeds authorized access" provision of the CFAA. 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(2). Specifically, the government's case against the police officer was that he used his authorized access to the license plate database for "an improper purpose" that included "any personal use." Van Buren, p. 4, citing App. 17. After the police officer was convicted by a jury, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. On appeal the Eleventh Circuit affirmed by holding that the police officer had violated the CFAA by his action in accessing the law enforcement database for an "inappropriate reason." Van Buren v. U.S., 940 F.3d 1192, 1208 (9th Cir. 2019). More ›

Frequently Asked Questions About the Latest CDC COVID-19 Guidance

While helpful to individuals, the new guidance issued recently by the Center for Disease Control raises more unanswered questions for employers preparing or implementing return-to-work strategies. In an advisory published on Hinshaw's website, we review these questions, and provide analysis.