EEOC Issues Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Retaliation

According to EEOC statistics, the most common basis for charges of discrimination filed with the agency is retaliation. Issues related to COVID-19, such as the ongoing need for sick leave, vaccine hesitancy, religious exemption requests from vaccine mandates, and long-COVID have added new retaliation concerns for employers. The EEOC’s most recent guidance provides some helpful…

Employer Alert: OSHA Rules on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

On September 9, 2021, President Biden directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a rule to increase the number of workers who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.  Consistent with that direction, OSHA developed an Emergency Temporary Standard which would apply to employers with more than 100 employees.  On November 4, 2021, OSHA…

The Latest on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

religious exemptions vaccine mandates

Many employers are being inundated with employee requests for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. Employers who are evaluating religious exemption requests must take a nuanced approach or risk violating federal anti-discrimination statutes, such as Title VII and the ADA. Those employers hoping for clear-cut answers from the EEOC are likely to be disappointed, as the…

No, HIPAA Does Not Prevent Employers from Asking About Vaccination Status

As businesses have begun mandating vaccinations for employees and customers, many have heard a common response, in one form or another, “You can’t ask me that because of HIPAA.”  In written form, these responses often invoke the protection of HIPPA, which is not a law.  (These responses often echo the statements of certain elected officials,…

Wal-Mart Ordered to Pay Over $125 Million to Former Disabled Employee

Wal-Mart has been hit with over a $125 million dollar jury verdict in a lawsuit filed against it by the EEOC. A Wisconsin jury found that Wal-Mart was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) when it discriminated against an employee with Down Syndrome and ultimately terminated her. Further, Wal-Mart was found to…

FDA Full Authorization Leads to More Employer Mandates

On August 23, 2021, the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, which had previously been authorized under an emergency use authorization.  Although some private employers had begun implementing vaccine mandates for employees under the EUA, particularly in the health care field, many had signaled that they were waiting for a vaccine to…

Employer Vaccination Mandates have Title VII and ADA Implications

As they resume pre-pandemic operations, employers are understandably concerned about the safety of their employees and clients. As a result, many are implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for their employees. According to the most recent guidance from the EEOC, employers are allowed to make such mandates; however, there are exceptions. The first exception is for those who cannot take the…

Hazy Laws Around Marijuana Use Creates Headaches for Maryland Employers

Over the past ten years, states and local governments have increasingly legalized the use of marijuana, depending on the reason.  A majority of states and DC have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes while a growing minority of states and DC have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  Within those states, differences persist regarding whether…

Federal Court Rules that pregnancy – alone – is not a disability

A Federal Court has ruled that an employee cannot sue under federal law for discrimination based on her pregnancy, because pregnancy alone isn’t a “disability” under the law. In Arozarena v. Carpenter Co., 2018 BL 184934, E.D. Pa., No. 5:17-cv-05457, Plaintiff Gina Arozarena filed a Complaint against her former employer, Defendant Carpenter Co., alleging that it discriminated…

Federal Court Allows Parties to Shorten Limitations Periods by Contract

In Bracey v. Lancaster Foods, LLC, No. RDB-17-1826, 2018 BL 112613 (D. Md. Mar. 30, 2018), the Maryland Federal Court reiterated the rule that statutory limitations periods may be shortened by agreement, so long as the limitations period is not unreasonably short. BACKGROUND Plaintiff Michael Bracey sued Defendant Lancaster Foods, LLC alleging violations of the…