Hot Off the Press – the CDC changed its guidance for contact tracing!

Posted by on Oct 27, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

Under prior guidance, the CDC defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person, thus putting the individual at higher risk of contracting the virus.  The CDC updated its guidance to define a close contact as:

“Someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.”

In sum, the standard is now cumulative rather than consecutive minutes which greatly broadens who may need to be notified in the event of a positive case.  For example, a person who was exposed three times in a 24-hour period—for five minutes during each encounter—would meet the definition.  Please check your policies for contact tracing and be sure to note this important change. 

 

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COVID-19 Workplace Safety Training

Posted by on Oct 6, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

Sixteen states, including New York, require employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training to employees. Even in states where training is not explicitly required, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, employers should consider providing COVID-19 workplace safety training. The Occupational Safety and Health Act and related state laws require employers to provide a workplace free from “known hazards” that are “likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

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Are Employers Required to Pay for COVID-19 Testing?

Posted by on Oct 1, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

Health plans are not required under Federal law to cover COVID testing if the reason for the test is not an individualized treatment or diagnosis. For example, return-to-work screenings do not have to be paid by an employee’s health plan. If an employee is not covered by an insurance plan, then the employer should look to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which contains pre-pandemic guidance that employers may be obligated to pay the costs of administering mandated tests.

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ICE Extends Remote I-9 Verification For 60 Days

Posted by on Sep 30, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that employers with entirely remote workforces as a result of COVID-19 have another 60 days until November 19, 2020 to utilize remote Form I-9 inspection requirements when onboarding new employees. The extension does not apply to businesses where some employees still physically report to a work location. If any employees are physically present at the worksite, in-person physical inspection of Form I-9 documentation must occur.

If you require assistance with your Form I-9 verifications and audits, please contact Susan L. Swatski, Esq. at sswatski@hillwallack.com.

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COVID-19 Commonly Asked Questions by Employers

Posted by on Sep 29, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

As employers re-open their offices and employees return to work in person, we have been receiving a number of questions, so we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a summary of the most commonly asked questions and our responses. Please keep in mind that these answers are intended to provide general information; employment laws are heavily nuanced and fact specific.

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New Jersey Supreme Court Holds That Electronic Distribution Does Not Invalidate An Otherwise Clear And Unambiguous Arbitration Agreement

Posted by on Sep 22, 2020 in Arbitration Agreements

Written by: Michael K. Fortunato, Esq.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently upheld an arbitration agreement which was distributed to employees through a series of emails and the employer’s online training module. In Skuse v. Pfizer, Inc., the Court rejected the argument that electronic communications are inappropriate means for such distribution. While the Court’s approval of electronic distribution will be its most-discussed aspect, however, the decision should also remind employers that arbitration agreements in New Jersey, regardless of form, will be enforced only if they are clear and unambiguous.

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Tips To Help Businesses Prepare To Re-Open

Posted by on May 4, 2020 in Covid-19

Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

As businesses are starting to re-open their doors, workers and employers need to prepare their workplaces for the new normal to try to keep everyone as healthy as possible in the new COVID-19 reality. These are challenging times to be sure and we’re here to help you navigate them by providing guidance on key legal issues to consider as you re-open your business.

1. Employer Screening of Employees for COVID-19

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently provided guidance that expressly permits employee screening and stating that such screening does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provided any mandatory medical test is job-related and consistent with business necessity. In the case of COVID-19, the virus poses a direct threat to the health of others thereby satisfying the business necessity standard. 

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