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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response - Labor & Employment Legal Issues

Employers have been at the forefront of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, forced to simultaneously make decisions that protect their workforce while also ensuring their businesses are well-positioned to meet their customers’ needs.

Our dedicated Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) team advises clients on keeping essential employees safe from COVID-19 through social distancing and other protocols. We also offer employment advice to clients as they navigate an unprecedented economic environment and seek relief through the CARES Act and other government programs.

Latest Updates

Stay informed with Nixon Peabody Labor & Employment law alerts, updates, and guidance. Recent coronavirus-related topics include:

  • CARES Act and FFCRA
  • Coronavirus travel restrictions
  • Changes to employee-benefits and leave policies
  • Furloughs vs. layoffs
  • Managing an essential workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • OSHA policy updates
  • Reopening businesses after COVID-19
  • Telecommuting and remote workforce management
  • What to do if an employee is infected with coronavirus

Coronavirus Response Team

We have created a multi-office and cross-practice Coronavirus Response Team to help our clients navigate through this fluid situation. Our team is actively providing guidance on a wide range of COVID-19–related issues, including workplace/facility safety, employment, benefits, contract disputes, health care, and education matters.

Learn more about the Nixon Peabody Coronavirus Response Team.

Red Wings preparing to welcome back both vaccinated and non-vaccinated fans

Spectrum News | May 06, 2021

In this broadcast story on New York State’s new guidance on capacity seating for venues, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted on whether businesses can ask their customers of their vaccination status.

Key points to consider as employers start bringing back employees to the workplace

Newsday | March 25, 2021

Long Island Labor & Employment counsel David Tauster is quoted in this story on business reopening in the region for his outlook on accommodation considerations and preparation time for employers.

Employers face new risks as business travel returns

Law360 | March 16, 2021

This article on the risks employers face as business travel returns quotes Labor & Employment deputy practice group leader and OSHA practice chair Ben Kim, of Los Angeles, and San Francisco Labor & Employment partner Rachel Conn on the realities of a shifting office environment.

CDC vaccine guidance offers ‘road map’ for employers

Law360 | March 10, 2021

Labor & Employment deputy practice group leader and OSHA practice chair Ben Kim, of Los Angeles, and San Francisco Labor & Employment partner Rachel Conn provide commentary in this article analyzing the CDC’s new post-vaccination guidance, discussing implications for employers.

Morning edition

WXXI-AM (NPR affiliate) | March 08, 2021

In this radio segment discussing a remote workforce in a post-pandemic world, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted on tax and withholding rules, among other employment laws, that employers should be aware of as employees may want to work in other states.

Local experts on CDC's new guidelines for COVID vaccinated people

WHEC-TV | March 08, 2021

In this television news segment on the CDC’s new guidelines announced on Monday, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted on employer incentive programs to increase the population of vaccinated employees, as businesses work toward a return to normal.

The CDC has released guidelines for vaccinated people. Here's what to know

New England Cable News | March 08, 2021

In this television news segment on the CDC’s new COVID-19 guidelines for vaccinated people, Boston Labor & Employment partner Jeff Gilbreth discussed how businesses can continue enforcing additional guidance they have in place, such as mask mandates.

Attorneys predict employment litigation cases will gain traction post-pandemic

Rochester Business Journal | March 05, 2021

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Stephanie Caffera is quoted in this article, as part of the publication’s “Litigation“ special report, for her outlook on the relationship between employment litigation and an economic downturn, areas that could pose challenges for employers, and possible federal OSHA guidance specifically for COVID-19.

90-day window for COVID-19 travel guidelines has some confused

WHEC-TV | March 02, 2021

In this broadcast segment on the loosening of some of New York State’s COVID-19 travel guidelines, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted for her thoughts on state and federal guidelines that employers must follow to protect their workforce.

R.I. Looks to Expand Workplace Tests

Providence Business News | January 22, 2021

This article covering Rhode Island’s push to double the number of daily COVID-19 tests in the state quotes Providence office managing partner Andrew Prescott, of the Labor & Employment group, on a R.I. statute that could potentially restrict employers from requiring tests as a condition of employment.

COVID-related paid sick leave options for employers

Rochester Business Journal | January 20, 2021

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding contributed this article for her outlook on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and what’s top-of-mind for employers in the year ahead.

Baystate Business: Snow, Stimulus, and Fitness

Bloomberg Radio | December 16, 2020

Boston Labor & Employment partner Jeff Gilbreth joined Thursday’s “Baystate Business“ radio program to discuss whether employers can and should mandate that employees get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the office.

NYS Assembly Bill Seeks to Empower Health Department to Make COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory

Spectrum News | December 09, 2020

In this television news segment on a bill introduced in the New York State Assembly to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted for her outlook on the bill’s enforcement mechanism.

Former OSHA Head's Transition Role Suggests Quick Emergency Rule

Bloomberg Law | December 08, 2020

In this article covering former OSHA head David Michaels being named to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team Covid-19 task force, San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Rachel Conn is quoted on employers’ trepidation over possible new regulation.

Speaking of Health Law: COVID-19 GC Roundtable-Part 10 (podcast)

American Health Law Association | November 05, 2020

In this podcast episode, Washington, D.C. Health Care counsel Sarah Swank speaks with two health care general counsel about how their hospitals are managing the pandemic response, including how they are dealing with patient load and planning for the future, and supply and workforce issues.

New Regulations May Make It Easier for Travelers to State, but Questions Remain

WHEC NBC-10 | November 02, 2020

In this broadcast segment on New York State’s new coronavirus regulations regarding interstate travel, which replaces the 14-day quarantine for travelers, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted for her outlook on how the new regulations are more manageable for businesses.

401(k) Contributions a Victim of Pandemic at Some Companies

Rochester Business Journal | September 25, 2020

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team leader and Rochester Corporate partner Eric Paley is quoted in this article on how some companies are freezing contributions to their employees’ 401(k) contributions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Pay Issues for Wage and Hour Lawyers to Watch

Law360 | September 24, 2020

This article on notable pandemic-related wage and hour issues quotes San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Jade Butman on whether employers would be on the hook for the time that workers spend adhering to building safety protocols.

What Employers Can Learn from New NLRB Virus Advice

Law360 | September 09, 2020

Labor & Employment deputy group leader and Chicago partner Brian Alcala contributed this article on the National Labor Relations Board’s recent guidance on COVID-19-related labor law violations against employers in these uncertain times.

On High Alert: Running a Retail Business in the Age of the COVID Pandemic

Marijuana Venture | August 10, 2020

San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, who co-leads NP’s Food, Beverage & Agribusiness team, and San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Hilary Baca co-wrote this contributed article on how cannabis retailers can revamp their stores and policies to stay in compliance with state and local laws, while helping to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses to customers and employees.

Liability immunity proposals raise concerns for lawyers

Daily Record | July 31, 2020

In this article on the proposed legislation to provide businesses with immunity from COVID-19 liability lawsuits, Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted for her outlook on the legislation and the importance of businesses to continually abide by state and federal laws.

Employer Object To Cal/OSHA Virus Reporting Split From Federal OSHA

Inside OSHA | July 28, 2020

This article, discussing employer objections to the differences between Cal/OSHA and the federal OSHA requirements to record and report COVID-19 cases, quotes an NP alert providing guidance for California employers on the differences. The alert was authored by Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) practice co-chair and Los Angeles Labor & Employment partner Ben Kim and San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Maritza Martin.

Are employers obligated to accommodate requests to work from home?

WHEC-TV News 10NBC | July 22, 2020

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding was featured in this broadcast segment on what obligations employers have to work with their employees as schools start again in September.

Marijuana Social Clubs: How Colorado is Setting the Pace

Cannabis Business Executive | June 17, 2020

This article, on the reopening of Colorado’s marijuana hospitality industry, cites a recent NP alert that details guidelines for cannabis retailers to consider for revamping operations without spreading communicable illnesses. Cannabis Business Executive also re-published the complete NP alert, written by San Francisco Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Alison Torbitt; Los Angeles Intellectual Property partner, Litigation Department vice-chair, and Fashion practice leader Staci Riordan; and San Francisco Labor & Employment associates Hillary Baca and Rachel Conn.

How employers can prepare for expected waves of coronavirus-related litigation

Daily Journal | June 03, 2020

Labor and Employment partner Bonnie Glatzer and associates Hillary Baca and Jade Butman, all in San Francisco, contributed this article on potential coronavirus-related litigation matters that California employers should be aware of, and how employers can prepare for possible lawsuits.

Special Considerations for Restaurants and Franchised Businesses Under the CARES Act

Modern Restaurant Management | April 29, 2020

Franchising & Distribution co-leader Keri McWilliams in Washington, DC, and Corporate associate Wes Gangi in Chicago contributed this article. Based on a recent client alert, the article covers relief programs available to the restaurants industry, food retailers, and franchisees under the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Employers face a ‘minefield’ of legal issues as they prepare to reopen

The Boston Globe | April 29, 2020

This article, which looks at the potential flood of litigation as the economy reopens, quotes Boston co-office managing partner and Complex Commercial Disputes partner Kathleen Ceglarski Burns on the possibility of shareholder lawsuits at publicly-traded companies, even if companies have listed the coronavirus as a risk factor in their annual reports.

Employers with skeleton crews are on the hook for their safety

Bloomberg Law | March 26, 2020

San Francisco Labor and Employment associate Rachel Conn discusses some of the methods employers are using to keep essential employees safe during the coronavirus outbreak—from staggered shifts to reconfigured work spaces.

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