Alameda County, California Reinstates Mask Mandates
On June 2, 2022, the Alameda County Public Health Department announced that face coverings would once again be required in most indoor public settings, including workplaces and offices, effective Friday, June 3, 2022 (the “Order”). The change comes as a result of rising COVID-19 cases in the jurisdiction that have “exceeded the peak of last summer’s Delta wave and are now approaching levels seen during the winter 2020-2021 wave,” even without unreported cases “due to home testing and unidentified infections.” The Order also cites a rise in hospitalizations that have exceeded last summer’s peak and the disproportionate infection rate in communities of color. Learn More
New York State Legislature Seeks to Expand Employee Rights to Freelancers Statewide
During the final days of its most recent legislative session, the New York State Legislature passed a bill (S8369B) that would mandate contractual forms and terms for businesses that use “freelance workers.” Building on New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, the bill, if it becomes law, will impose additional requirements on businesses engaging certain types of independent contractors. The bill will be delivered to New York Governor Kathy Hochul by the end of the calendar year. If Governor Hochul signs the bill into law, it will take effect 180 days thereafter and will apply to contracts entered on or after the effective date. Governor Hochul has not yet opined on whether she will sign the bill. Learn More
Employer Drug-Testing Rules Clipped by Rhode Island Marijuana Legalization
On May 25, 2022, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed into the law the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, which legalized recreational cannabis. As a result, Rhode Island has joined a small but growing minority of states that extend employment protections to employees who use marijuana during non-working hours. With certain exceptions, an employer’s ability to take adverse action as a result of an applicant’s or employee’s positive drug screen for cannabis is likely significantly limited absent evidence of current impairment at the time of the test. Although employers are still expressly permitted to implement drug-use policies that prohibit employees from being under the influence of cannabis in the workplace, including medical cannabis, several of the law’s key provisions raise more questions than they answer regarding how such policies can be implemented effectively. Learn More
A Tipster’s Refuge: Colorado Significantly Expands Health, Safety, and Fraud Whistleblower Protections
As summer starts to sizzle in Colorado, and the Colorado General Assembly closes its session, employers have seen a flurry of new laws affecting Colorado employees. Among them are now expanded protections for whistleblowers. The Health and Safety Whistleblower law, Senate Bill 22-097, expands whistleblower protections for those who raise workplace health and safety concerns. The Colorado False Claims Act, House Bill 22-1119 expands whistleblower protections for those who raise concerns about fraudulent government bills and statements. While each may appear at first blush as a less-than-noteworthy expansion of existing law, each significantly expands existing law with an accompanying threat of significant damages and penalties for the unwary. Learn More
New Obligations for Frontline Sector Employers through Minnesota’s Frontline Worker Pay Program
On April 29, 2022, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed S.F. No. 2677 (2022) into law. This law authorizes bonus payments to Minnesotans who worked in frontline sectors during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency. This so-called “Hero Pay” law aims to thank eligible frontline workers for their sacrifices and hard work during the pandemic, when their work put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. Notably, beginning June 8, 2022, employers in the identified frontline sectors have 15 days to advise all current workers who may be eligible for Frontline Worker Pay that they may have assistance available to them and how to apply for benefits. Employers must provide this notice by June 23, 2022. Learn More
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