After facing a number of lawsuits filed by some U.S. universities and states, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has agreed to rescind the policy change announced July 6, 2020 that rolled back some of the temporary COVID-19 pandemic exemptions for international students in F-1 and M-1 status.
Introduction: Earlier this year, California’s new consumer privacy law (CCPA) went into effect, and strict state enforcement began on July 1. Since its enactment, the CCPA has undergone several amendments because the plain meaning of the law’s text was not clear.
Executive Summary: Today, July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court decided two cases – both by a 7 to 2 vote – involving the impact of religion in employment. First, the Supreme Court clarified the applicability of the Ministerial Exemption for religious organizations, including religious schools, from the federal antidiscrimination laws. Second, the Supreme Court upheld as valid two Trump Administration interim rules providing that employers who have sincerely held religious beliefs or moral objections against providing insurance coverage or payments for contraceptive services cannot be required to provide such coverage or payments.
Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it is rolling back some of the temporary COVID-19 pandemic exemptions for international students in F-1 and M-1 status that allowed them to take online classes. For the fall 2020 semester, international students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. DHS plans to publish the new procedures and responsibilities as a temporary final rule in the Federal Register.
Executive Summary: An Auburn University student claims he did not get what he bargained for in being relegated to distance learning instead of having an in-person educational experience. On June 30, 2020, Steven Bailey filed a federal court class action lawsuit against the university based on the school’s decision to provide online courses instead of in-person instruction during the Spring semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See Bailey v. Auburn University, Case No. 3:20-cv-457-ECM-WC (pending in the Middle District of Alabama).
Executive Summary: South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has signed into law the South Carolina Lactation Support Act (SC Lactation Act or the Act), which requires all South Carolina employers to provide reasonable break time, paid or unpaid, and reasonable space to workers wishing to express breast milk while at work. The Act went into effect on June 25, 2020, and by July 25, 2020, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) will post on its website compliance information related to the Act. Employers must comply with the Act within 30 days of SCHAC posting this information.
Executive Summary: On June 30, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law CS/HB 255 which, among other things, amends the Florida Civil Rights of 1992 (FCRA) to statutorily define the limitations period by which a plaintiff must file a lawsuit alleging a violation of the FCRA in situations where the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) has failed to issue a determination on a charge of discrimination (Charge) within 180 days of the Charge’s filing.
Executive Summary: On April 29, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council adopted two ordinances governing (1) right of recall and (2) protection of workers in the hospitality, janitorial, and tourism industries within the City of Los Angeles (the “City”). The purposes of these Ordinances are to protect workers that have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and ensure fair employment practices. Mayor Eric Garcetti has previously stated that he intends to sign these Ordinances.
In the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, a number of counties and cities in California have issued Orders requiring residents and visitors to wear face coverings when in public. Additionally, many of the other counties that have not issued face covering mandates have strongly recommended that residents and visitors wear face coverings in public. Below is a summary of the requirements for each California county that has addressed the issue to date.
As discussed in our previous Legal Alerts, on March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Generally, the FFCRA requires that private employers with fewer than 500 employees provide emergency paid sick to the extent that employees are unable to work (or telework) due to certain COVID-19-related circumstances.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S-2353, which amends the New Jersey Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (“April Amendments”), more commonly known as New Jersey’s mini-WARN statute. New Jersey initially amended its mini-WARN statute in January 2020 (“January Amendments”), significantly expanding notice requirements and liability when a triggering event occurs. Once the January Amendments take effect, New Jersey will be the first state in the nation to require employers who conduct a covered “mass layoff” or “termination of operations” to pay affected employees severance equivalent to one week’s pay for each full year of employment, even when the employer gives sufficient statutory notice to its workers. In addition, among other things, the January Amendments: (i) increase the required advanced notice period from 60 days to 90 days, (ii) reduce the “mass layoff” minimum threshold to 50 employees at or reporting to an establishment, (iii) redefine “establishment” to include all of an employer’s facilities within New Jersey; and (iv) extend severance liability to corporate affiliates and executives making lay-off decisions.
On April 13, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission passed an Emergency Amendment to the Commission’s Rules of Evidence, which was published April 16, 2020. The new rule provides that, whenever the employee claiming workers’ compensation coverage is a COVID-19 “First Responder or Front-Line Worker,” and the employee’s injury, occupational disease, or incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during the COVID-19 state of emergency, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the condition was causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the employee’s employment. This means that, should an employee covered by the Emergency Amendment become ill with COVID-19 and file a workers’ compensation claim, there is a significant likelihood that the condition will be covered by workers’ compensation.
In an effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page has announced that as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020, all non-essential businesses in St. Louis County, Missouri will be required to close. The order originally directed closure through 11:59 p.m. on April 22, 2020, but closure has now been extended indefinitely and will be reevaluated in mid-May . St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson also announced a similar order that took effect 6:00 p.m. on March 23, 2020. Like the County order, it originally directed closure through April 22, 2020, but closure has now been extended indefinitely and will be reevaluated in mid-May. These restrictions follow the earlier restrictions limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Executive Summary: On April 16, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-51-20 (the “Order”) requiring employers in the Food Sector to (1) provide their employees with paid sick leave due to COVID-19 and (2) permit their employees working in a food facility to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes. The purpose of the Order is to help “reduce the spread of COVID-19” by providing Food Sector employees incentive (in the form of paid sick days) to call off from work if they have or potentially have COVID-19. As Food Sector employees work directly with members of the public and the food supply, there is a heightened risk of transmittal if such employees are infected. This Order is effective immediately and shall remain effective during the pendency of California’s stay-at-home order.
As Illinois employers ponder their futures amid the COVID-19 crisis, many are trying to determine whether some form of reducing employees’ hours is the solution. Many have inquired whether their employees can make up the difference in pay through unemployment compensation (UC) benefits through the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, and now with enhanced benefits through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The answer to this question is, as with so many legal questions, it depends.