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Can Companies Be Held Liable When Their Employees Fall Ill with Coronavirus?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not released specific standards covering COVID-19, Michelle Strowhiro, a partner in the Los Angeles office of McDermott Will & Emery, is quoted in a recent ABA Journal article saying that employers could face risks under Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause if they don’t take steps to protect their workplace and ensure it is not exposed to individuals who may have contracted the virus. Access the full article.

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Treasury/IRS Release Proposed Regulations on Section 4960 Excise Tax

The US Department of the Treasury has released long-expected proposed regulations regarding the section 4960 excise tax on certain remuneration or separation amounts paid to the five highest paid employees of a tax-exempt organization. The new proposed regulations continue the tough approach previously taken on section 4960 issues, while also providing some new exceptions and important clarifications. Access the full article.

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LGBTQ Title VII Ruling May Impact Your Employee Benefit Plan

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the US Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender, gay and lesbian employees (and prospective employees) from workplace discrimination based on sex. This means that the protective authority of Title VII for LGBTQ individuals generally extends to employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. Access the full article.

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Worker Safety, Privacy Clash as Temperature Checks Become Norm

Employers are poised to collect health data from their workforces daily as they adopt temperature checks and other screening protocols to fight the coronavirus, triggering concerns about workers’ privacy and whether the practices will continue beyond the pandemic. “The temperature checks give employees and customers the feeling of safety and the idea that the company is doing everything possible, even if the screenings don’t protect the workplace,” said Michael Sheehan, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, in a recent Bloomberg Law article. Access the full article.

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COVID-19: FAQs on Employees Experiencing Symptoms and Employee Absences

With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer in relation to COVID-19 will vary depending on the nature of their work, the industries served and their location and size, among other considerations. This article outlines what employers need to know about employees experiencing symptoms and employee absences. Access the full article.

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Preparing Your Workforce: How to Avoid Legal Landmines When Bringing Employees Back

The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on organizations of all sizes across all industries. The uncertainty of the “new normal” is leading some employers to consider extreme, and often unnecessary, new policies in anticipation of the eventual return to work. To properly navigate the complexities of these novel COVID-19 employment issues, you need innovative but practical solutions. Learn key takeaways from our third webinar in our Return to Work Virtual Toolkit series that focuses on how to avoid legal landmines as you prepare to bring your employees back to work. Access the full article.

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Pandemic Unemployment Aid Intensifies Debate Over Classifying Gig Workers

The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends relief to workers and employees who don't have access to state benefits, but it will almost certainly put pressure on gig economy companies to start paying into state unemployment insurance funds as government resources continue to diminish due to COVID-19, attorneys say. Michelle S. Strowhiro, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said, "To the extent that, post-COVID, we want to maintain unemployment benefits for those traditionally not eligible, ... we'd have to contemplate a way that additional funding could be accessed for the long term." Access the full article.

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Proposed Jobs Credit Act Would Significantly Expand CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credits

A bill titled Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit Act of 2020, which would make significant changes to the employee retention tax credits available under the CARES Act, is currently under consideration in the US House of Representatives. In this article, we outline the proposed changes, which are generally designed to increase the availability, scope and amount of the credits. Access the full article.

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