By: Shireen Wetmore, Ann Marie Zaletel, Chantelle Egan, and Kerry Friedrichs

Seyfarth Synopsis: Many employers are asking whether they need to provide documentation to employees performing work during a shelter-in-place or similar order and increasingly, employees are demanding such documentation.  Should employers provide documentation to employees that explains their status as supporting essential, critical businesses?

Across the country, states and localities are enacting orders or laws that restrict which businesses may remain open and which employees may continue to report to the worksite.  These orders permit–and in some cases require–hundreds of thousands of workers to continue to report to work.  To date, most orders  either do not address documentation or expressly state that individuals do not need to carry documentation to prove that they are performing work for an essential business. While many of these orders do not require employees to carry papers identifying where they work, many employees are concerned that they will be stopped on the street or harassed.  They are scared to go to work and scared to be out on the streets.

Additionally some of these employees would find it difficult to articulate how or why their presence is deemed essential to the functioning of our infrastructure or the health and safety of local inhabitants.  One simple example to illustrate: grocery stores are clearly exempt–they feed us and supply us with necessities of daily life.  But who delivers those items for sale or cleans the store at night to keep you safe?  A third shift worker, traveling the mostly empty city streets at night on her way to work might appreciate some talisman in her pocket, whether necessary or not, to present to a wary officer or frustrated neighbor seeing her out and about.

More recently some states have begun instituting mandatory quarantines for travelers entering the state (see our blog on this topic here).  Hawaii’s requires a mandatory declaration upon arrival and quarantine, while Alaska’s requires businesses to submit a safety plan to a state agency detailing a plan to avoid the spread of COVID-19.  In other states, like Michigan, employers and partner businesses must supply–in writing–notices to workers, designating them as “critical infrastructure workers.”  All of the requirements only add to a worker’s angst.

To that end, employers may want to consider providing a letter (or better yet, a business card-sized document to fit in an employee’s wallet), verifying employment for those individuals still reporting to work at physical locations.  We have prepared sample templates for clients ranging from a printable business card template to lengthy letters detailing the employee’s and employer’s critical roles in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

While not legally necessary in all jurisdictions, such documentation may be a simple comfort to your employees.  Even if it is never used, it provides the employee with the right words to say if it is ever needed.

So what should be included in such a communication?  Again, these are unchartered waters.  However, employers may want to consider including some of the following:

  • contact information for someone who can quickly verify the individual’s travel purpose, if required and who will be available at the time the individual is traveling
  • the name of the business and, if different from the location of assignment, the address where the worker performs the work
  • reference to the order (or exemption from the order) permitting the worker to travel
  • the essential work (including the need to perform minimum basic operations for non-essential businesses) of the worker and/or business
  • tips for compliance with the applicable local and/or state orders (including resources like CDC guidelines for handwashing, social distancing, and when to stay home from work)

Not all of the above will make sense for every employer or business.  Businesses should consider carefully whether a one-size-fits-all communication is appropriate given their unique staffing and geographic locations.  If you are considering providing similar documentation for your employees, we encourage you to reach out to your favorite Seyfarth attorney.

Finally, if you made it this far, a little treat, because, if nothing else, your business card can be used to legitimize your request for the Business Women’s Special.

By: Anne Dana, Shireen Wetmore, and Chantelle Egan

Increasing fears about community spread of COVID-19 have caused a growing number of states and other localities to issue orders requiring those who are traveling to or returning to the state from out-of-state or specific “hot-spots” to quarantine for up to 14 days.

The goal of such orders is to diminish community spread of the disease.  However, for “essential” workers – who are frequently, but not always, exempted from such orders – this is adding one more complication.  For example, how should employers address the quarantine requirement for employees who voluntarily travel outside the state during personal time? What about employees who are commuting across state lines to perform work the employer deems essential?  And what about those whose job it is to transport essential goods across state lines, such as truck drivers and freight haulers, who may need to spend the night in the state?

In some cases, the orders provide certain exemptions from the quarantine requirement.  Generally the exemptions include those in the airline industry, military, healthcare, or emergency response operations.  Some orders also include exceptions for essential business needs, however, not all do.  The orders without such a carve out could be problematic, as they could hinder the transport of necessary goods.  More importantly, whether a business is “essential” may vary from state to state and locality to locality.  (See some of our prior alerts discussing “essential businesses” here (Federal), here (NY), here (CA), and here (IL).

While some employees, contractors, and suppliers were already requesting documentation supporting their critical roles (see our blog on this issue here), these requests will likely increase with these new travel restrictions. This is particularly true as states are developing their own methods for tracking compliance with the mandates, ranging from requiring proof of purpose of travel to completion of forms to requirements that businesses affirmatively submit a plan for avoiding the spread of COVID-19 to the local state agency.

The following is a high level overview of the state ordinances currently in effect as of this writing:

  • Alaska: Alaska has issued Health Mandates requiring the quarantine of both intrastate travelers (Health Mandate 12) and interstate travelers (Health Mandate 10.1). The mandates exempt those who support critical infrastructure.  However, those who believe their business in Alaska support critical infrastructure are required to submit a plan or protocol to the Dept. of Commerce outlining, inter alia, how they will support that infrastructure and protect the community from the spread of COVID-19.  Individuals arriving in Alaska must also complete a Mandatory Travel Declaration.  Failure to comply with quarantine is punishable by fine up to $25,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year.  Falsification of information on the travel form may be classified as a felony.  
  • Delaware: The Governor modified the declaration of emergency to require anyone entering Delaware from another state, and who is not merely passing through, to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of entry or for the duration of the stay, whichever period is shorter.  The order does not apply to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers, or any other individual providing assistance to an Essential Business or providing an emergency service related to COVID-19.  Nor does it apply to individuals commuting into Delaware to work for an Essential Business or to perform Minimum Business Operations.  Nor does it apply to those traveling to care for a family member, friend, or pet in Delaware, or to the transport of family members, friends pets or livestock.  Violation is a criminal offense.  The order went into effect on March 30th and is retroactive.
  • Florida: Florida’s original order (EO 20-82) required any person whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. The order does not apply to persons employed by the airlines or those performing military, emergency or health response. The effective date of the order was on March 24, 2020.

A subsequent order (EO 20-86) expanded the quarantine to include those entering Florida by roadways and to include the State of Louisiana, and exempted those performing “military, emergency, health or infrastructure response, or persons involved in any commercial activity.”  The order took effect on March 27th and applies retroactively to all persons who have been in an area with substantial community spread.  It also directs for checkpoints on roadways for those entering Florida, and requires persons to provide information, including in a written form, regarding the origin of their travel and the address of their location of isolation or quarantine. Violation of the order is a second-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both. Violators must also be reported to the state department of health.

  • Hawaii: As of March 26, 2020, pursuant to the Second Supplemental Proclamation, all persons entering Hawaii, “except those persons performing emergency response or critical infrastructure functions who have been exempted by the Director of Emergency Management,” are subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine (or the duration of their stay in Hawaii, whichever is less).  The order currently applies to all travel through May 20, 2020.  Violations are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or up to one year in prison, or both.
  • Kansas: On March 27th, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued an updated quarantine requirement for Kansans who had travelled to certain hot-spots on or after specific dates as listed in the mandate, including Louisiana, Florida, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, California, New York, and certain counties in Colorado, as well as any international or cruise ship travel. The mandate does not apply to critical infrastructure sectors, including public health, hospitals, clinics, pharmaceuticals and food supply.
  • Maryland: The Governor of Maryland has announced that no Marylander should be travelling outside of the state and that those who have traveled outside of the state should self-quarantine for 14 days. However, the order issued on March 30th did not include a reference to this requirement.
  • Massachusetts: Unlike many of the other states on this list, the Governor of Massachusetts has issued an that travelers should self-quarantine for 14 days, but has not issued and order and there is no enforcement mechanism.  Travelers arriving at the airport and train stations will receive fliers advising them to quarantine and similar advice will be posted along highways. Other states have followed suit by requesting quarantines, without directly ordering them, including New Hampshire,  , and Nevada.
  • New Mexico: The order directs all persons whose travel to New Mexico is through an airport and whose point of departure originates outside of New Mexico to self-isolate or self-quarantine for a period of at least 14 days from the date of their entry into the State of New Mexico or for the duration of their presence in the State, whichever is shorter. The order defines the terms “self-isolate” and “self-quarantine”.  The order does not apply to persons employed by airlines and those performing public safety or public health functions, such as military personnel, federal employees, those employed by a federal agency or national defense contractor, emergency first responders, healthcare workers, or individuals who are employed by shipping and freight companies.  It also directs the New Mexico Department of health to ensure compliance and enables civil or criminal penalties if warranted.  The effective date of the order was March 27th.
  • North Dakota: Requires that all individuals traveling back to North Dakota from international locations and states in the U.S. that have been classified as having widespread disease by the CDC (and includes a list) must quarantine upon reentry to the state of North Dakota for 14 days. Any “critical infrastructure workers,” as defined by the United States Department of Homeland Security are exempt. Failure to comply can result in 30 days of imprisonment and/or up to a $1500 fine.
  • Oklahoma: The order provides that all persons who enter the state by air from an area with substantial community spread, which includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Louisiana to quarantine for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s stay, whichever is shorter.  It does not apply to those employed by airlines or to those performing military, emergency or health response.  The order took effect on March 29th and applies retroactively.  The order is unique in that it also requires individuals who have traveled to any of these areas to inform any individual in Oklahoma with whom they have had direct physical contact in the past 21 days of that travel.
  • Rhode Island: The order provides that any person coming to Rhode Island from another state for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. The order does not apply to “public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.”  The order makes clear that any person who works in another state and cannot telework must self-quarantine when not at work (except those subject to the above exclusions).  The order took effect on March 28th.
  • South Carolina: The order provides that any individuals who enter the State of South Carolina from an area with substantial community spread, including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and the City of New Orleans, Louisiana, shall isolate or self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days from the time of entry into the State of South Carolina or the duration of the individual’s presence in South Carolina, whichever period is shorter.  The order does not apply to individuals employed by airlines and individuals performing or assisting with military, healthcare, or emergency response operations.  The order is effective as of March 27, 2020 and is in duration for the State of Emergency unless otherwise modified or amended.
  • Texas: The order (EO-GA-11) provides that any person who enters Texas as the final destination through an airport, from a point of origin or point of last departure in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or New Orleans, to quarantine for 14 days from the date of entry or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter.  The order excludes those traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical infrastructure functions.  Covered persons have to fill out a form that designates the quarantine location and other information. Violations are a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.  The order went into effect on March 28th.

Texas then expanded the locations in a subsequent order to include air travel from California, Louisiana, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami.  This went into effect on March 30th.

It also expanded the quarantine requirement to address road travel from Louisiana in another subsequent order (EO-GA-12).  This order also excludes those traveling in connection with commercial activity — in addition to the above excluded categories of military, emergency / health response, and critical infrastructure.  This order also went into effect on March 30th.

  • Vermont: The order requires that residents and non-residents coming from outside the state self-monitor and home-quarantine for a period of 14 days.  This does not apply if the travel is for an essential purpose.  The order defines essential purpose to include travel required for: personal safety; food, beverage or medicine; medical care; care of others; and to perform work, services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security, as set forth in Stay Home/Stay Safe.  Visitors are instructed not to travel to Vermont if they are coming from cities or regions identified as “hot spots” including Florida, Louisiana, Detroit, Chicago, New York City.  It also orders residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to stay in their home states in strict compliance with CDC travel guidance.  The order took effect March 30th.

Compliance aside, Constitution law scholars are likely gearing up to respond to (and even bring) challenges to these various orders based on, for example, the Commerce Clause, Article IV of the United States Constitution (“The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states”), the Fourteenth Amendment (“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”) and other, similar protections designed to facilitate travel and commerce between states.  Perhaps with that in mind, several states appear to be limiting orders or recommendations to residents of that state only, referring to “Statelanders” instead of all travelers in and out of State.  Needless to say, the situation remains fluid.

In the meantime, however, the growing number of orders, each with unique exceptions and requiring varying forms of documentation, will require close attention from businesses relying on the interstate travel of workers and goods during this pandemic.

The COVID-19 landscape continues to rapidly evolve at the federal, state and local level. Companies should reach out to their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations on addressing compliance with these ever-changing provisions. To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 developments, click here to sign up for our daily digest.

By Christine Hendrickson and Annette Tyman

Synopsis: On Equal Pay Day 2020, Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group is pleased to release two reference guides: its Fourth Annual 50-State Pay Equity Desktop Reference and 2020 Developments in Pay Litigation Report.

Equal Pay Day is always a day of deep reflection and connection for our Pay Equity Group. The day is filled with webinars, phone calls and interviews, flights, in-person meetings and hallway greetings.  This year, instead of flying around the country, we are working from homes, preparing final materials in make-shift home offices between “homeschooling” sessions. At least one of our planning calls was interrupted by a new “co-worker” roller-skating down the hallway.

But putting the final touches on our communications in the quiet of the morning, we reflect on the way the global pandemic has had a way of clarifying and crystalizing the core of what is important.  As Kori Carew, Seyfarth’s Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer, wisely stated that “Our need for connection and belonging likely hasn’t been greater for most of our lifetimes.” So even though we have made the decision to move our webinar until later in the year, we wanted to share these reference materials.  We are grateful that we can support the efforts of so many employers who are proactively working to ensure equal pay on a daily basis.  As we offer these resources to you today, we plan to hold a substantive webinar in the summer when we can collectively focus on the legal issues, trends and practices that propel our combined work and focus on ensuring equal pay for all.

As we look back at 2019 and forward to the new world that 2020 and beyond presents, we see three key trends:

  • The Continued Passage of Pay Laws: Since the beginning of 2019, we saw new pay laws enacted or strengthened in eleven states.  Alabama, which was one of only two states without any state pay equity laws, passed an equal pay law and also enacted a quasi-salary history ban.  Colorado passed a law that will require employers, beginning in January 2021 to include the pay scale on job postings.  Nebraska passed a wage transparency law. There are new or amended salary history bans in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Washington state.  There are also new equal pay laws or increased penalties for violations of equal pay laws in Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Wyoming.  The Fourth Annual 50-State Pay Equity Desktop Reference outlines many of these changes at the state-level.
  • Increased Pay Litigation: Over the years, we have seen an increase in litigation under the federal Equal Pay Act and analogous state laws with noticeable focus on state law claims. With over 300 pure “pay” cases filed in the last two years, we see a concentration of cases in California, Florida, and Texas. Those cases are already generating new and intriguing legal issues that have the potential to reshape the landscape of pay equity litigation, including whether and how those claims can be maintained as collective or class actions. The 2020 edition of the Developments in Pay Litigation Report, authored by our colleague Matt Gagnon, outlines these cases and trends.
  • A Global Focus on Pay Equity: In 2019, we saw employers continue to focus on global pay equity issues, to be more transparent about pay along with an increased appetite for additional data and metrics. As our global workforces are impacted by COVID-19, we believe that the desire to connect, to demonstrate belonging will be even more important in 2020.

All of the members of the Pay Equity Group look forward to working with you and partnering with you in navigating these issues in 2020.  We stand with you to support these efforts.

Christine Hendrickson and Annette Tyman co-chair the Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group.

By Jennifer L. Mora

On Monday, March 23, 2020, the United States Department of Transportation issued guidance for DOT-regulated employers, employees, and their service agents that might be facing challenges in meeting the department’s drug and alcohol testing requirements due to the pandemic. The guidance, which can be found here, serves to “provid[e] maximum flexibility to allow transportation industries to conduct their operations safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency.”

According to the guidance:

  • DOT-regulated employers remain obligated to comply with applicable DOT training and testing requirements. However, recognizing that compliance may not be possible in certain areas due to the unavailability of program resources, such as collection sites, Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), Medical Review Officers (MRO), and Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP), the guidance advises regulated employers to “make a reasonable effort to locate the necessary resources.” DOT states that as “a best practice at this time,” employers should consider mobile collection services for required testing if the fixed-site collection facilities are not available. DOT, however, reminds employers that “point-of-collection testing or instant tests are not authorized in DOT drug testing.”
  • If a DOT-regulated employer is unable to conduct DOT drug or alcohol training or testing due to COVID-19-related supply shortages, facility closures, state or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments, it must continue to comply with existing applicable DOT requirements to document why the test was not completed. If training or testing can be conducted later (e.g., supervisor reasonable suspicion training at the next available opportunity, random testing later in the selection period, follow-up testing later in the month), employers must do so in accordance with applicable modal regulations.
  • If an employers is unable to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing due to the unavailability of testing resources, the underlying modal regulations continue to apply. For example, without a “negative” pre-employment drug test result, an employer may not permit a prospective or current employee to perform any DOT safety-sensitive functions, or in the case of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the employer cannot hire the individual.
  • Recognizing the concern about potential public health risks associated with the collection and testing process in the current environment, the guidance advises employers to review the applicable DOT Agency requirements for testing to determine whether flexibilities allow for collection and testing at a later date.
  • The guidance reminds employers that it is their responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of the employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 C.F.R. § 40.355(i). However, as the COVID-19 outbreak poses a novel public health risk, the DOT asks employers to be sensitive to employees who indicate they are not comfortable or are afraid to go to clinics or collection sites. It also asks employers to verify with the clinic or collection site that it has taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Finally, the guidance advises employers to revisit back-up plans to ensure the plans are current and effective for the current outbreak conditions. For example, these plans should include availability of collectors and collection sites and BAT, and an alternate/back-up MRO, as these may have changed as a result of the national emergency. DOT also advises employers to have regular communications with service agents regarding the service agent’s availability and capability to support the employer’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program.

Many employers with drug and alcohol testing programs, whether regulated or not, are finding it difficult to administer their programs in light of the pandemic. Employers that are not subject to DOT or any other federal or state-mandated drug testing requirements still must consider any applicable state and local drug and alcohol testing laws before making any modifications to their drug and alcohol testing programs. Employers that need to revisit their current testing programs during this uncertain time should consider working with counsel experienced in drug and alcohol testing laws and policies. We will continue to monitor these issues as they develop at the federal, state, and local level.

 

By Steve Shardonofsky, Linda C. Schoonmaker, Vanessa Rogers, and Joshua D. Seidman

Seyfarth Synopsis:  Last April, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance requiring employers to provide employees who work within the City of Dallas with 48 or 64 hours of paid sick leave per year, depending on size.  Despite pending lawsuits challenging the legality of the ordinance, the ordinance took effect August 1, 2019. Since that time, the City of Dallas has limited its enforcement to violations that constitute unlawful retaliation. On April 1, 2020, full enforcement will begin. 

As enforcement draws near, employers  should take a close look at the ordinance, regulations and administrative guidance and their respective policies to ensure compliance, to the extent they have not already done so.  This article provides a recap of the paid sick leave requirements in Dallas and outlines the penalties facing employers who do not comply.

Effective August 1, 2019, pursuant to Dallas’ Earned Paid Sick Time ordinance (the “Dallas Sick Time Ordinance”), employers with more than five employees at any time in the preceding 12 months are required to provide their employees with paid sick leave.  Businesses with five or fewer employees in the preceding 12 months have until August 2021 to comply.

Below is a summary of the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance:

  • Definition of Covered Employees: Eligible employees include individuals who perform at least 80 hours of work for pay in Dallas in a year for an employer, including work performed through the services of a temporary employment agency. The Dallas Sick Time Ordinance, however, excludes independent contractors, as defined by the Texas Administrative Code, and unpaid interns from the definition of employee.
  • Definition of Covered Employers: Employers are defined broadly to include any person, company, corporation, firm, partnership labor organization, non-profit organization, or association that pays an employee to perform work for an employer and exercises control over the employee’s wages, hours, and working conditions. Covered employers do not include the United States, State of Texas, and City of Dallas governments and any agency that cannot be regulated by city ordinance.
  • Accrual Rate and Cap: Employees accrue one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked in the City of Dallas, up to 64 hours of earned paid sick time per year for medium or large employers (defined as an employer with more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding the employer’s family members) and 48 hours per year for small employers (i.e., employers with 15 or fewer employees).[1]
  • Leave Usage: Once accrued, employees are entitled to use available earned paid sick time immediately.  However, employers (1) may deny or restrict leave usage during the employee’s first 60 days of employment if the employee’s term of employment is at least one year, and (2) may limit leave usage to no more than eight calendar days a year.[2]
  • Permitted Reasons for Use: Eligible employees may use available earned paid sick time for the following reasons: (1) the employee’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventive medical or health care, or health condition; (2) the employee’s need to care for their family member’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative medical or health care, or health condition; and (3) certain safe time reasons relating to the employee’s or their family members’ status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Covered Family Member: Under the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance, family member includes the following: (1) spouse; (2) child; (3) parent, and (4)  any other individual related by blood, or any other individual whose close association to an employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The Dallas Sick Time Rules further added that family member includes step-parents, step-siblings, step-children, step-grandparents, step-grandchildren, anyone who can be claimed as a dependent, and anyone who can claim someone as a dependent.
  • Verification: Employers can ask for reasonable verification of the reason for leave of more than 3 consecutive days, but not require details about the nature of the condition or situation requiring leave. Employers must allow an employee a reasonable amount of time to provide the verification.
  • Payment of Sick Time: Employees must be paid an amount equal to what the employee would have earned if the employee had worked the scheduled work time, exclusive of any overtime premium, tips, or commissions, but no less than the state minimum wage.  An employer must pay an employee for his/her use of paid sick time on the payday for the pay period in which paid sick time was used by the employee.  If an employer requires verification of the use of paid sick time of more than three consecutive days, an employer shall pay sick time to an employee no later than the payday for the pay period during which verification is provided to the employer.
  • Year-End Carryover: Employers must generally permit employees to carry over all available earned paid sick time up to the applicable yearly cap. However, employers who frontload 64 or 48 hours of earned paid sick time (whichever is applicable) to employees at the beginning of the year are not required to permit year-end carryover of unused time.
  • Notifying Employees: Employers must provide the following notifications to employees working in Dallas: (1) display a sign describing the requirements of the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance, (2) include a notice to employees of their rights and remedies under the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance in an employee handbook, if the employer provides employees with handbooks, and (3) provide a written statement to each employee, at least monthly, of their balance of available paid sick time hours, including, among other things, the name of the employee, the name of the employer, the statement’s date, the statement period, the amount of sick time used during the statement period, the amount of the employee’s available paid sick time, and either the number of hours worked within the boundaries of the City and amount of paid sick time accrued during the statement period (for employers using the accrual method) or the paid sick time hours made available during the beginning of the year (for employers using the front-loading method).  The City of Dallas has created model Dallas sick leave posters in various languages and sample language for employee handbooks, available here and here.
  • Anti-Retaliation: Employers may not transfer, demote, discharge, suspend, reduce hours, or directly threaten such actions against an employee because the employee requested or used earned paid sick time, reported a violation of the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance, or participated or attempts to participate in an investigation under the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance.

While the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance took effect August 1, 2019, the City will not begin actual enforcement (except for violations of the anti-retaliation provision which are already being enforced) until April 1, 2020.   Notably, there is no private right of action under the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance. But employers may be subject to civil fines of up to $500 for each violation, if the employer does not voluntarily comply within 10 days of notice of violation.

For employers who have not already revised or rewritten policies, including paid sick leave, call-in procedures, attendance, record keeping, anti-retaliation, and disciplinary policies to comport with the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance — now is the time.  Enforcement begins in a few short days.

For additional information about Dallas’ Paid Sick Leave Ordinance check out our previous blogs, click here, herehere, and here.  To access a list of Frequently Asked Questions published by the City of Dallas, click here.

As the paid leave landscape continues to expand, companies should reach out to their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations on addressing compliance with specific PSL and paid time off laws and on PSL requirements generally. To stay up-to-date on paid leave developments, click here to sign up for Seyfarth’s Paid Sick Leave mailing list.

[1] The Dallas Sick Time Ordinance is silent on how employers should calculate whether they qualify as  medium or large employers. However, the City’s corresponding FAQs provide the following nonbinding guidance – An employer should count the number of employees who have done at least 80 hours of compensable work for an employer within the geographic boundaries of the City of Dallas within the last 12 months, excluding family members but including owners. If the number of employees employed at any one time has varied over the last 12 months, the employer should use the highest number at any one time. An employer should count part-time employees as one employee rather than a fraction of an employee.

[2] While the Dallas Sick Time Ordinance is silent on a definition of benefit year, the Ordinance does note that an employer who, as a matter of company policy, uses a 12-consecutive-month period other than a calendar year for the purpose of determining an employee’s eligibility for and accrual of paid sick time must provide its employees with written notice of the policy at the commencement of employment.

By Gerald L. Maatman, Jr. and Matthew Gagnon

Seyfarth Synopsis: In the past 24 hours, the EEOC released a statement: What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19, which gives employers some guidance on how they can navigate the safety concerns associated with COVID-19 while staying in compliance with the federal disability discrimination laws. The EEOC was careful to explain that although those laws are still very much in effect, they do not interfere or prevent employers from following the guidelines or suggestions made by the CDC or state and local public health authorities regarding COVID-19. The Commission’s statement is a must read for corporate counsel.

The EEOC’s statement builds on its earlier guidance, issued during the H1N1 pandemic, Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act. That publication, which is far more in depth than what was just released, provides important guidance for employers trying to navigate the disability discrimination laws during a pandemic, including: how much and what kinds of information an employer may request from an employee who calls in sick, when employers may take the temperature of employees, when the ADA allows employers to require employees to stay home from work, and what employers can require in terms of doctors’ notes or other certifications of fitness for duty.

Those issues are also addressed briefly in the EEOC’s recent statement. These are the key points that the EEOC wants all employers to keep in mind:

  • During a pandemic, employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus. For COVID-19, these include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.
  • The EEOC reminded employers that measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. But because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever.
  • The CDC has stated that employees who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 should leave the workplace. The EEOC wants employers to know that the ADA does not and should not interfere with that advice.
  • The ADA allows employers to require doctors’ notes certifying fitness for duty because such notes would not be disability-related or, if the pandemic were truly severe, they would be justified under the ADA’s standards for disability-related inquiries of employees. The EEOC also acknowledges that doctors and other health care professionals may be too busy to provide such documentation and that new approaches may be necessary, such as a form, a stamp, or an email to certify that an individual does not have the pandemic virus.

Implications For Employers

This is an incredibly fast-moving situation and no single set of guidelines can possibly cover all of the diverse situations that employers are likely to face with unprecedented urgency over the next days, weeks, and months. But the new guidelines issued today, and especially the more detailed document that was issued in 2009, are a good place to start for employers who are looking for quick, practical guidance as they start crafting and implementing critical workplace policies on the fly.

We encourage all employers to review Seyfarth Shaw’s COVID-19 Resource Center for additional guidance and information. The Resource Center was designed to provide employers up-to-the-minute guidance on the diverse and growing list of legal considerations and risks employers are facing. Seyfarth Shaw also has a response team standing by to assist however we can.

Readers can also find this post on our EEOC Countdown blog here.

By Katherine F. Mendez and Samantha L. Brooks

Seyfarth Synopsis: In our fifth installment on the presidential candidates’ stances on future of work issues, we provide an update from the campaign trail and Capitol Hill.

In our fourth installment in our “where the presidential candidates stand” series, we discussed the candidates’ and the President’s positions on preparing and training employees for a highly technical workplace, and how they plan to invest in the workforce.  A common theme among the candidates is the importance and value of apprenticeships.  On March 4, a subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee heard testimony regarding the importance and future of apprenticeships at a hearing titled “Reauthorizing the National Apprenticeship Act: Strengthening and Growing Apprenticeships for the 21st Century.”  Rep. Susan Davis noted in her opening statement that apprenticeship programs “combine business needs with labor demands” — a theme that has been echoed by the candidates.

Since our fourth installment, Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the Democratic candidate race, leaving only Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Tulsi Gabbard, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

At the debate on March 15, which featured Former Vice President Biden and Sen. Sanders (Sen. Gabbard was not invited to the debate because she has not won enough delegates), COVID-19 and health care understandably took center stage, though Biden and Sanders briefly discussed their positions on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour (we covered the candidates’ positions on minimum wage in our third installment of this series).  We hope that as the race for the White House progresses, and as the COVID-19 pandemic slows over the coming weeks and months, the candidates will give some much-deserved attention to future of work issues, including those issues discussed in our series. We will continue to update you as election season grinds on, and as the candidates discuss issues important to employers and employees alike.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Counseling & Solutions Team.

By Christine Hendrickson and Nolan R.Theurer

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Ninth Circuit, in an en banc decision following remand from the Supreme Court, held that employers cannot justify pay disparities under the federal Equal Pay Act by showing that those disparities are based on employees’ past earnings. We hope you will join Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group for an Equal Pay Day 2020 webinar on March 31, 2020, to discuss this case and more about the current state of pay equity law. You can register for the webinar here.

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, issued a decision in Rizo v. Yovino, holding the prior salary cannot be used as a “factor other than sex” to justify pay differences under the federal Equal Pay Act. The ruling tracks the earlier Ninth Circuit opinion written by late U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, which was discarded by the U.S. Supreme Court because Judge Reinhardt died before the decision was published. With the February 27th ruling, the Ninth Circuit joined the Tenth and Eleventh circuits in holding that the Equal Pay Act precludes employers from relying solely on prior salary to justify pay differences. This is in contrast to decisions in the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, which held that such reliance does not by itself violate the Equal Pay Act.

The Facts Underlying The Ninth Circuit Case

The original Ninth Circuit case, Rizo v. Yovino, 854 F.3d 1161 (9th Cir. 2017), was brought by Aileen Rizo who worked as a math consultant for the Fresno County public schools. The County classified management-level employees in salary levels that contain progressive pay steps. New math consultants were placed into Level 1, which contained ten salary steps with compensation ranging from $62,133 to $81,461. To determine the starting salary for a new consultant, the County considered the candidates’ most recent prior salary and added 5% to assign the starting salary step within Level 1.

Rizo previously worked as a middle school math teacher in Arizona. Consistent with the County’s practices, Rizo was to receive a 5% increase over her prior salary. However, doing so would have resulted in a starting salary that was lower than the minimum salary level for new math consultants. The County addressed the issue by setting Rizo’s starting salary at the minimum of the Level 1-Step 1 salary range, along with a slight increase to account for her advanced education.

Several years later, Rizo learned that at least one of her male colleague’s starting salary was set at the Level 1-Step 9 salary range and that the other math consultants, all of whom were male, all earned more than she was paid. After raising internal complaints regarding the disparity between her compensation and that of her male counterparts, Rizo filed suit raising allegations under the federal Equal Pay Act, Title VII, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The Trial Court Decision

The County moved for summary judgment, arguing that although Rizo earned less than her male colleagues, the pay differences were not based on her sex, but were instead based on her prior salary, a legally-permissible “factor other than sex.” The district court disagreed, holding that, under the Equal Pay Act, prior salary alone can never qualify as a factor other than sex. The district court reasoned that basing one’s starting salary exclusively on prior salary carried too great a risk of perpetuating gender-based wage disparities.

The Court of Appeals’ Original Decisions

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals initially reversed the District Court, relying on its prior decision in Kouba v. Allstate Insurance Co., 691 F.2d 873 (9th Cir. 1982). which held that an employer can maintain a pay differential based on prior salary (or any other gender-neutral factor) if it shows that the factor effectuates some business policy and if the employer uses the factor “reasonably in light of the employer’s stated purpose as well as its other practices.” The Ninth Circuit held similar reasoning applied to Title VII claims as well.

However, the Ninth Circuit then granted en banc review “to clarify the law, including the vitality and effect of Kouba.Rizo v. Yovino, 887 F.3d 453, 459 (2018) (en banc). On April 9, 2018, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, overruled Kouba, holding that prior salary cannot be the sole justification to explain a pay differential between a man and woman under the federal Equal Pay Act. Writing for the majority, Judge Reinhardt wrote that a worker’s salary history can never be a non-sex factor because women have historically earned less than men. He opined that if the law lets employers point to women’s past salaries to justify paying them less, it would “perpetuate that gap ad infinitum.

The Appeal to The U.S. Supreme Court

Defendant Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino appealed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the en banc opinion relied on Judge Reinhardt’s vote, and should be vacated due to Judge Reinhardt’s death eleven days prior to the date the opinion issued. Agreeing with the Appellant and noting that judges are “appointed for life, not for eternity,” the Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit opinion. Yovino v. Rizo, 139 S.Ct. 706 (2019).

The February 27, 2020 Court of Appeals Decision

This Thursday, the en banc Ninth Circuit echoed Judge Reinhardt’s April 2018 opinion, holding that past salary is not a “factor other than sex” and reviving Rizo’s suit under the Equal Pay Act. Writing for the majority, Judge Morgan Christen wrote that “setting wages based on prior pay risks perpetuating the history of sex-based wage discrimination.” Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15372, 2020 WL 946053 (9th Cir. 2020).

“The express purpose of the act was to eradicate the practice of paying women less simply because they are women,” Judge Christen wrote for the majority. Id. at *1. “Allowing employers to escape liability by relying on employees’ prior pay would defeat the purpose of the act and perpetuate the very discrimination the EPA aims to eliminate.” Id.

In concurring opinions, two judges said their colleagues should have taken the more moderate approach of some other circuits.

In her concurrence, Judge Margaret McKeown said Fresno Schools’ policy did not justify the disparity between Rizo’s pay and that of her male coworkers, but salary history “may provide a lawful benchmark” for setting pay if considered alongside other factors such as education and training. Judge McKeown’s concurrence was joined by Judges Richard Tallman and Mary Murguia. Id. at 14.

Judge Consuelo Callahan also concurred, joined by Judges Tallman and Carlos Bea. She stated that an employer should be permitted to use past salary as a factor in setting pay, as long as its use “does not reflect, perpetuate, or in any way encourage gender discrimination.” Id. at 19.

Implications For Employers

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, there is a clear Circuit court split regarding the use of prior salary to explain pay disparities. Employers should be aware of the split and approach this area with caution. Following this decision, the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits have held that the Equal Pay Act precludes employers from relying solely on prior salary, whereas the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, have ruled that such reliance does not by itself violate the Equal Pay Act. Id. at 19.

Employers should also be aware of numerous salary history bans that prohibit employers from seeking and, in some cases, relying on prior pay in setting starting wages.

Careful evaluation of your policies and practices around the use of prior salary is encouraged. Given the maze of federal, state, and local laws that govern the use of wage history, employers should evaluate the laws that apply to their operations to ensure they are not unwittingly running afoul of these potentially conflicting obligations.

Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group continues to track these developments closely. We hope you will join us for a webinar on March 31, 2020, Equal Pay Day 2020, to hear more about the current state of pay equity law. You can register for the webinar here.

By Andrew J. Sherman, Chantelle C. Egan, Anne R. Dana, and Patrick D. Joyce

Seyfarth Synopsis: As restaurant and hospitality consumers rethink their dining experiences, increased concerns are coming from food service providers about how to ensure food safety, reassure patrons, and address issues arising when workers get sick. The good news is that the food industry is already well-positioned because of its strict food safety standards.

Business owners and chefs need to consider how their business plans and business models need to shift, with a focus on delivery, catering, special events, and in-store promotions to keep facilities packed and tables turning. Restaurants and food service providers should also consider the below steps to help them prepare for Coronavirus-related issues.

Planning Ahead

One of the most important things for any employer is putting a plan in place for how to address these new concerns.

  • Open communication with employees and patrons
    • Provide detailed information to employees about Coronavirus, including the symptoms, where they can go if they believe they are sick, what steps the restaurant is taking to ensure the safety of workers’ and patrons—as well as provide regular updates as the situation evolves. Information is one of the best ways to calm frayed nerves.
    • Post signage upon entering restaurants and open letters on websites, and send emails to patrons of enhanced cleaning and personal hygiene procedures and measures. If your restaurant offers paid sick leave and/or health insurance, use this as an opportunity to toot your own horn, while also assuring patrons that you have stressed the importance to employees to stay home if feeling sick.
  • Develop a response plan
    • Reduced staff availability. An increased number of your staff may be staying home, whether because they or a loved one is ill, or due to preventative measures such as school closures.  Cross-training for various positions could ease the burden of reduced staff availability.
    • Reduction in demand. With individuals adopting new behaviors to curb the spread of Coronavirus (e.g., working remotely, not gathering in large groups), restaurants may experience a downturn in consumer demand.  Create strategies for alternative revenue sources. For example, offer delivery or catering.  Review contracts to determine how to handle cancellations for large parties or changing set delivery orders.
    • Supply chain. Access to ingredients, supplies, and other vital materials may be restricted as supply chains adjust to virus concerns. Research alternative sources of necessary supplies.
    • The need to close or reduce hours of operations may come on suddenly. Take measures to ensure that you can swiftly communicate with your employees and patrons. Also establish a plan for how to quickly undertake sanitation efforts.
    • Publicity. Get ahead of possible press coverage if there is a Coronavirus exposure by preparing a draft public response for the media, so you aren’t left scrambling.

Increase Sanitation Efforts

Using federal, state and local food safety laws and guidance as a starting point, now is the time to take your already rigorous cleaning routine to the next level.

  • Wash, rinse, repeat
    • Enhance frequency of cleaning, focusing on disinfecting high-touch public areas, such as door handles, tabletops, chairs, and counters, as well as credit card machines or other highly trafficked surfaces. Ensure that cleaning supplies comply with the EPA’s list of approved disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 (which can be found here).
    • Consider additional sanitizing measures such as “deep cleans” at regular intervals and with increased frequency.
    • Increase handwashing requirements for employees, including instituting a schedule (such as every 30 or 60 minutes), as well as whenever employees touch their face, sneeze, cough, or use the restroom. Remind employees to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using plenty of soap.
    • Provide hand sanitizer or personal disinfecting wipes for patrons as they enter the facility, demonstrating publicly your commitment to sanitation.
  • Limit hotspots for potential contamination
    • Remove self-serve condiment and utensil stations. Instead, have patrons ask for these items from gloved employees.
    • Suspend reusable cup options—whether for free refills or for patrons who bring their own.
    • Consider shifting to take-out options and evaluate best practices for providing patrons with food to go.

Sick Leave and Reporting Illness

Employers also need to quickly address what to do when employees are sick.

  • Review policies for how to handle employees who call out
    • Employers should review their sick leave policies, Family Medical Leave Act policies, and other relevant policies to determine what kind of leave must be provided to employees and under what situations.
    • Where feasible, some larger restaurants and chains have temporarily amended sick leave policies, including adding paid sick leave or “catastrophe pay” for up to 14 days for employees who have to be quarantined.
  • Pay attention to proposed new laws
  • Paid time off
    • Review any pay issues that may arise if employees are unable to come to work. Unless there is a contract or a collective bargaining agreement at issue, hourly employees typically work at-will and are not guaranteed wages or hours.  In other words, these employees do not need to be paid.  However, employers should ensure there are no local or state laws that require further consideration if schedules are suddenly changed.
    • For example, New York’s Fair Workweek law, which governs fast food restaurants, contains exceptions to the schedule change premium, and one such exception is a state of emergency declared by the governor of the State of New York or mayor of the city, which is currently the case in New York. Likewise, San Francisco’s Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances, which govern chain restaurants with at least 40 locations worldwide, provides a similar exception when “operations cannot begin or continue due to threats to employees or property, or when civil authorities recommend that work not begin or continue.”
  • Communicate expectations for employees to report potential exposure and/or diagnosis
    • Employers should remind employees about sick leave policies and strongly encourage employees who are not feeling well to stay home.
    • Employers should also implement requirements for reporting any possible exposure to or diagnosis of Coronavirus infection. This includes notifying other employees and/or patrons who may have been exposed.
  • Clarify expectations to managers for addressing employee and/or patrons displaying symptoms
    • Communicate with managers about how to address concerns with employees who appear sick and instructions on sending employees home. Put a policy in place with respect to what is required to return to work, such as a doctor’s note or a documented negative  Coronavirus test result.
    • Communicate with managers about what to do if a patron appears sick and is displaying symptoms associate with Coronavirus, which may include providing hand sanitizer and tissues, asking the patron to leave in extreme circumstances, and being sure to properly disinfect the area where the patron was after they leave.

The situation with Coronavirus, and how best to respond, is evolving rapidly.  Planning ahead, while remaining flexible, is key to navigating the changing norms and the impact of Coronavirus on your business.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) or Workplace Counseling & Solutions Teams.

By Robert A. Fisher and John Ayers-Mann

Seyfarth Synopsis: On January 24, 2020, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued significant changes to its regulations regarding the processing of cases. The new procedural regulations are a mixed bag for employers. While some changes are helpful, other changes, such as expanded post-determination discovery and procedures for bringing charges on a class-wide basis, create new burdens on employers.

On January 24, 2020, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued significant revisions to its procedural regulations. The procedural regulations govern the Commission’s investigation of a charge of discrimination and the litigation of claims after a probable cause determination. The revisions represent the first change to the procedural rules in 21 years. Overall, the new regulations are mixed bag for employers. While some of the changes will promote efficient case processing, other changes are more burdensome, including enhanced post-determination discovery and procedures to allow claims to proceed as class actions before the Commission.

Among the more welcome changes, the regulations allow employers to move for reconsideration of the Commission’s probable cause determination at any time prior to the certification conference. Under the old rules, once the Commission had made a probable cause determination, an employer did not have a mechanism to avoid a public hearing. The new reconsideration rule enables an employer to move to dismiss the case after engaging in post-determination discovery. The rule is akin to a summary judgment motion in court in that an employer can obtain reconsideration if there is an absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Once a respondent moves for reconsideration, the Investigating Commissioner may grant the motion and issue an order reversing or modifying the probable cause determination. This new mechanism will be an invaluable tool for employers seeking to dispose of claims without undergoing a public hearing.

The new regulations also grant the Commission the authority to conduct Commission-sponsored mediation overseen by the Investigating Commissioner. However, this may be problematic in some instances. In a typical mediation, parties are able to freely share information without the concern that the information will be used in the litigation, if mediation is unsuccessful. This safeguard does not exist under the new rules. In Commission-sponsored mediation, the Investigating Commissioner serves as the mediator, but should mediation be unsuccessful, the Investigating Commissioner would resume his or her role as the factfinder. Thus, any employer considering mediation before the Commission should carefully consider the information that it shares during the process.

The Commission’s new regulations also significantly expand the discovery mechanisms available to employees at the administrative level. Previously, complainants could take depositions of individuals, such as supervisors or human resources professionals, but could not notice depositions of organizations themselves. The new regulations allow complainants to notice and depose organizations through use of a Rule 30(b)(6)-style deposition. In traditional court litigation, 30(b)(6) depositions are particularly onerous because in many instances employers may need to prepare multiple witnesses on numerous matters in order to appropriately respond. Thus, the Commission now permits complainants to demand that employers present witnesses who can testify on behalf of the organization on multiple topics. In addition to allowing depositions of organizations, the regulations afford parties the opportunity to propound thirty interrogatories—more than a litigant is entitled to in state court. Accordingly, the Commission’s new regulation threatens to impose significant litigation costs on respondent organizations.

Perhaps most notably for employers, the new rules authorize the Commission to preside over a class action or initiate such class actions sua sponte. The regulation requires the Commission to make findings similar to those required to maintain a class action under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and allows parties to appeal orders of the Investigating Commissioner to the Full Commission. While the authority of the Commission to oversee class action adjudications has been questioned by the courts in the past, the Commission’s decision to include class action mechanisms in its new procedural regulations may indicate that the Commission has a renewed interest in presiding over and even initiating class actions at the agency level.

On balance, the Commission’s revisions to the procedural regulations increase the burden that employers are likely to experience at the agency level. Although it is unclear whether the rules will encourage Complainants to keep their claims at the agency level, rather than removing them to superior court, the new regulations show that the Commission is poised to import more aspects of formal litigation into agency proceedings.

For more information on this topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth Attorney, or any member of Seyfarth Shaw’s Labor & Employment Team.