Throughout US President Joe Biden’s first year in office, the Biden administration reversed numerous Trump-era policies, including those concerning the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal contractors, wage data and LGBTQ bias. In this Law360 article, McDermott Partner Rachel Cowen offers insight into how the friction between religious and LGBTQ rights will continue to play out throughout employment law.
Businesses Left in Limbo on COVID-19 Mandate
Following a US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision to temporarily block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new vaccine requirement rule, many employers have found themselves in a state of confusion. According to this article published in The Hill, businesses could face steep penalties if they willfully violate the rule, such as fines of more than $130,000. But even though the rule is temporarily blocked, McDermott Partner Michelle Strowhiro said businesses should continue preparing for important OSHA deadlines.
“I think it’s prudent for employers to proceed with planning assuming that the OSHA rule, at least in some form or fashion, will be implemented pending final resolution of the various court cases,” Strowhiro said.
Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Blocks New OSHA Rule
On November 6, 2021, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit temporarily blocked the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued on November 4, 2021, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination policies. The ETS is stayed until further notice, halting its implementation temporarily. While the future of the ETS remains uncertain, employers may want to continue preparing for the ETS as if it is going to take effect while litigation continues.
OSHA and CMS Vaccination Rules Released: Here Are the Details
On November 4, 2021, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect employees of large employers in all industries from COVID-19. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) simultaneously released its Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule, applicable to most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers, which must be met to continue participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs. Finally, the White House announced that its previously published federal contractor vaccination mandate would be updated to move the compliance deadline from December 8, 2021, to January 4, 2022.
Payers Seek Clarity on Biden’s Vaccination Mandates
A recent Biden administration Executive Order requires workplace COVID-19 vaccinations for many companies, healthcare workers and federal contractors to occur by December 8. However, the federal government has yet to rule whether payers are federal contractors.
In this Health Payer Specialist article, McDermott Partner Michelle Strowhiro said if the government determines that payers that administer certain plans are federal contractors, renewal contracts signed between October 15 to November 14 will require clauses guaranteeing compliance with the vaccination mandates.
President Releases Executive Order Prohibiting Training for Contractors and Federal Grant Recipients
On September 22, 2020, US President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, which prohibits federal contractors and recipients of federal grants from conducting certain workplace training on race and sex stereotyping. This Executive Order is likely to be challenged on various grounds, including First Amendment grounds, but all employers may wish to review their workplace training materials in anticipation of future Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action for reverse discrimination.
The Department of Labor Issues Proposed Regulations Implementing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced its proposed regulations to implement Executive Order (EO) 13706, establishing paid sick leave for federal contractors. The proposed regulations describe the categories of contracts and employees covered by the EO, the rules and restrictions regarding the accrual and use of such paid sick leave, the obligations of contracting agencies, and the available remedies and enforcement procedures.