The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993, a year when the idea of working a corporate job from a living room was rare. When the law was passed, the FMLA didn’t contemplate a remote workforce. Now, and especially post-pandemic, many companies are embracing a fully remote workforce (e.g., sales representatives, healthcare medical device technicians and software engineers). While employees’ needs for a leave of absence have always been around, remote employment and its effects on the applicability of the FMLA requirements has not. For well over two years, many employees have been working from home. Some report to a manager at the headquarters or worksite. Plenty of remote employees, however, report to an individual who also works remotely. The new remote landscape is making what used to be an easy application of FMLA eligibility into a difficult analysis. This article examines the FMLA regulatory framework for remote employees, a recent Texas federal court decision on the issue and the practical options that employers have moving forward.
One round of layoffs is bad enough for rank-and-file morale. Subsequent layoffs can be even tougher on remaining employees, who may mourn the loss of their colleagues and wonder if they will be next. Employers can take steps to limit the damage and avert potential liability problems before and during the layoff process. Open communications before and after layoffs, to the extent possible, can help workers come to terms with the layoffs.
Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, employees who are 40 years old or older are guaranteed time to think about whether or not to sign a release—21 days if only one person is being laid off, 45 days if two or more are laid off. After signing, they have another seven days to revoke the acceptance of the agreement.
When the release is signed in exchange for a severance package, the separation agreement must list the job titles and ages of all employees in the organizational unit, showing which are being laid off and which are not, explained Neil Capobianco, a McDermott partner in New York City, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Complying with the federal WARN Act, a layoff or shutdown notification law, and its state counterparts is more than just crunching numbers. In a recent Bloomberg Law article, McDermott Will & Emery’s Kate De La Cruz examines five “alarms” companies should consider to ensure compliance.
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.
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.
Private equity firms risk potential liability for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act violations. Case examples demonstrate the need for proactive activity management, including observing corporate formalities, establishing and filling the director and officer positions of all entities, permitting the operating company management to make the decisions regarding employment terminations and plant closings, and clearly communicating and documenting these activities, to help avoid or quickly exit litigation.