Labor and Employment Law Update

Welcome to the Labor and Employment Law Update where attorneys from SmithAmundsen blog about management side labor and employment issues. We cover topics including addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace, developing labor law, navigating through ADA(AA), FMLA and workers’ compensation issues, avoiding wage and hour landmines, key legislative, case law and regulatory changes and much more! Learn more about our firm at www.salawus.com.

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Latest from Labor and Employment Law Update

Contributed by Jeffrey A. Risch, February 25, 2021 – www.illinoisprevailingwage.com Contractors, developers, architects, owners, project managers and even public bodies often ask the same obvious question when dealing with any type of prevailing wage ordinance or law, “what are my obligations?”  While everyone involved in public construction projects want to comply with prevailing wage mandates, more often than not those involved in such projects are either oblivious to their responsibilities or are mistaken in their belief as to such responsibilities. This is not surprising in light of the great variance in prevailing wage laws, related rules and interpretations of such rules…
Contributed by Peter Hansen, Michael Wong and Sara Zorich, February 23, 2020 COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire form with medical mask and a pen on it. A question that employers often ask when someone in the workplace reports COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test is, who is the employer required to notify? Typically common sense and CDC guidelines have been that employers must engage in contact tracing and notify individuals who were in “close contact” with the person. In recent months and weeks, local and state departments of public health have continued to issue guidance, and mandates, that employers must…
Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, February 17, 2020 COVID-19 stimulus package, US dollar cash banknote on American flag Congress is turning its attention to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, which is called the American Rescue Plan.  Because the package includes enhanced unemployment benefits that are currently set to lapse in mid-March, Congress is under pressure to take action by then. The following aspects of the proposal have a specific impact on employers: Restoration and expansion of emergency paid leave:  President Biden has proposed reinstating and expanding the paid sick and family leave benefits passed as part…
Contributed by Allison P. Sues and Jeff Risch, February 15, 2021 Illinois has long limited employers from considering the criminal history of an applicant or employee in making employment decisions. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employers from considering an employee’s arrest history, for example. In recent years, Illinois’ “Ban the Box” law disallows employers from asking about criminal convictions prior to a job offer or before a candidate is selected for an interview and, therefore, assumed to be otherwise qualified for the position in question. Now, Illinois is poised to go a step further in banning the use…
Contributed by guest author Matthew Horn, February 10, 2021 In response to an executive order signed by President Biden, OSHA recently issued updated COVID-19 guidance recommending that all employers adopt a formal COVID-19 prevention plan, incorporating the following activities and elements: Conducting a hazard assessment relating to COVID-19 exposure; Identifying control measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 (such as distancing, masks, barriers, work-from-home, staggered shifts, etc.); Adopting policies that encourage sick workers to stay home and not come into work; Communicating and training employees on the policies and procedures implemented (in their native languages); and Implementing protections from…
Contributed by Michael Hughes, February 8, 2021 “Union” in block letters The mis-named Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress on February 4, 2021. The PRO Act, which originally was introduced in 2019 and passed the House of Representatives in 2020, would completely change the landscape in the labor-relations world. You may recall that our recent blog post advised that reintroduction of the PRO Act likely was a priority of the Biden Administration and the revamped U.S. Congress. Billed by Democrats as legislation to support workers’ rights, the PRO Act is less…
Contributed by Jacqueline Lentini McCullough, February 3, 2021 Immigration Law books with a gavel on desk in the library. Last November I mentioned that the Trump Administration enacted over 400 immigration policy changes during its tenure. The changes added burdens to visa petitions, delayed processing, and made life more challenging for everyone in the immigration community. Executive Order Highlights President Biden signed a slew of prepared executive orders when he took office. Some of the orders that affect the immigrant community include: the preservation and plans to “fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; cessation of border…
Contributed by guest author Joe Demko, February 2, 2021 The pen lies on the tax form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement. The time to pay taxes 2020 was certainly a unique year for employers and employees. This includes complications with wage reporting.  Most employers have issued wage reports to their employees by the January 31st deadline and prior to the publication of this alert. These employers must now determine whether they are required to issue corrected Form W-2s. Thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (which required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick…
Contributed by Carlos Arévalo and guest author Molly Arranz, January 29, 2021 Back in October 2020, we reported on the McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC decision,where the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District ruled that the state Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) and its exclusivity provisions do not bar claims for statutory damages under BIPA. The decision found that while the WCA provides remedies to workers that have sustained an actual injury, BIPA provides statutory, liquidated damages to employees who allege privacy right violations even when there is no injury and as a result, employees could…
Contributed by Michael J. Faley, January 29, 2021 After the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it had extended its ACT Mediation pilot program, the EEOC reversed course yesterday and abruptly concluded pilot programs relating to the EEOC’s conciliation and mediation efforts.  The ACT Mediation pilot, which launched on July 6, 2020, expanded the categories of charges eligible for mediation, generally allowed for mediation to take place throughout an investigative process (rather than only before the investigation begins as is traditionally the case outside the pilot), and expanded the use of technology to hold virtual mediations.…
Contributed by Carlos Arévalo, January 18, 2021 On the last day of 2020, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter impacting employers using telework arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While a vaccine is now rolling out and we will hopefully get the pandemic under control in 2021, this opinion letter provides guidance to employers that have had to institute remote and hybrid work policies and/or arrangements with their workforce. Specifically, the opinion letter addressed two general scenarios: Employee has a parent-teacher conference in the middle of the day and works from the office, attends…
Contributed by Steven Jados, January 14, 2021 FMLA family medical leave act ,FMLA Recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reiterates that the DOL will allow telemedicine visits—generally speaking, health care appointments held via video conference—to qualify as in-person visits to a health care provider under certain circumstances. As our readers know, the FMLA provides certain employees up to 12 workweeks of leave for, among other things, a “serious health condition.”  An employee can show the existence of a serious health condition by several methods that include establishing that the employee has an illness or injury that…
Contributed by Beverly Alfon, January 12, 2021 They say that the only constant in life is change.  Here is a quick overview of the shift that we expect to see in the realm of labor and employment after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.   National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) The NLRB is expected to have a Democratic majority as early as August 2021.  The five-member Board currently has three Republican members, one Democrat, and one vacancy.  The expectation is that the Biden administration will move quickly to fill the vacancy.  In addition, the term of William Emmanuel, a Trump…
Contributed by Suzanne Newcomb, December 28, 2020 On December 22 the Federal Department of Labor (DOL) published a Final Rule changing the FLSA regulations for tipped employees. The Final Rule takes effect 60 days after publication. A caveat before we dig into the Final Rule; the change affects only federal law. As with all things wage-and-hour-related, many states, and some local governments, enforce more stringent requirements. Some jurisdictions prohibit tip credits entirely. This post focuses on the federal standard only. Employers must adhere to the requirements applicable to their particular business in each location in which they operate. The…
Contributed by Rebecca Dobbs Bush, December 22, 2020 While it has not yet been fully passed and enacted into law, the full text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was released days ago and announced as having bipartisan support. Within the over 5,500-page Act, are several provisions designed to assist smaller businesses and those hardest hit by the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As is common with legislation, the Act essentially presents only an outline of Congress’ intent and leaves relevant agencies to fill in the details of that outline. Pursuant to mandates in the Act, most…
Contributed by Kelly Haab-Tallitsch, December, 22, 2020 A $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress late last night is expected to be signed into law by President Trump later today. In addition to an assortment of aid for individuals and businesses, the bill extends several provisions of the CARES Act passed in March, including the tax credit for employers providing paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). However, the bill does not extend the mandate for employers to provide paid leave, set to expire December 31, 2020. What Does This Mean? Employers are not required…