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Vaccine Exemption Requests Put Legal Departments in Tricky Spot

As more employers mandate vaccines for their workforces, in-house legal departments are encountering a host of challenges, including understanding religious accommodations and minimizing litigation exposure. According to this article published in Law.com, employers should have the ability to navigate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII-related accommodation requests. However, McDermott Partner Carole Spink said many employers have never encountered the current breadth of religious exemption requests from their workforces.

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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.

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Business Groups Want to Have a Say in Biden’s Vaccine Requirement

While many of the United States’ largest corporations don’t oppose the Biden administration’s vaccine requirements for many employers, those companies say many of their questions about the administration’s rule have gone unanswered. The new rule requires employers with more than 100 employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or require weekly testing of employees.

In an article published in The Hill, McDermott Partner Michelle Strowhiro said some employers may decide to scrap the testing alternative altogether.

“Administratively, it’s going to be quite burdensome for employers, especially large employers with hundreds or thousands of employees, to track weekly the testing results for employees,” Strowhiro said.

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COVID-19 Laws and Regulations: A Midyear Update

As employers navigate evolving COVID-19 state and federal rules, workplaces will have to stay vigilant about changes throughout the second half of 2021. These include changes to mask mandates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard and the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act.

Recent US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance, for example, confirmed what employment lawyers had already been counseling businesses to do, according to McDermott partner Carole A. Spink in a recent Law360 article.

“The guidance was important because it did clarify that employers can provide incentives for voluntary programs. [There] was a big open question about, ‘Am I going to get into trouble because I’m trying to incentivize people to be vaccinated?'”

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OSHA Releases Guidance for Employers Considering Vaccine Requirements

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released three new FAQs for employers who recommend or require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines. OSHA is responsible for enforcing workplace safety standards across the US.

McDermott previously reported that employers can require employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, though employers should consider several factors before making the decision to require employee vaccinations. The new OSHA guidance highlights additional considerations when requiring employee vaccinations.

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COVID-19 Safety Plans: What Employers Need to Know

COVID-19 safety plans are a way for employers to demonstrate to their employees, the public and, in certain cases, state governments that they have considered the risks associated with COVID-19 in their workplaces and have developed a response to these concerns. The plans establish and explain the policies, practices and conditions necessary to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards relating to worker and customer exposure to COVID-19. These plans may also incorporate guidance from the state department of health and industry specific guidelines issued via state executive orders.

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Preparing Your Workplace: How to Navigate Safety Mandates and Recommendations

Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are thinking about returning to work and what this will look like in practice. While it will not be business as usual, this article highlights how employers can prepare their workplaces and navigate safety mandates and recommendations.

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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.

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Open for Business: How ‘Essential’ Businesses Can Keep Their Workplace Healthy and Safe

Most states have issued some form of ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ order to flatten the curve of COVID-19. As a result, many business operations have been temporarily suspended, unless the business is engaged in essential or critical infrastructure functions or supports businesses engaged in such functions.

For businesses that are considered ‘essential’ and have employees still reporting to work, what steps can employers take to keep their workplace healthy and safe?

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Affordable Care Act Whistleblower Complaint Procedures

On October 11, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a final rule that establishes procedures and time frames for handling whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act (ACA); for hearings before US Department of Labor (DOL) administrative law judges in ACA retaliation cases; review of those decisions by the DOL Administrative Review Board; and judicial review of final decisions.

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