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EEOC Sues Employer for Not Accommodating COVID-Related Telework Request
By: Emily Matta

On September 7, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a lawsuit against ISS Facility Services, Inc., a workplace experience and facility management company headquartered in Texas, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). This case marks the agency’s first disability accommodation lawsuit connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is one employers should keep an eye on as they continue to shift employees from remote work back to the office.

Beginning in May 2020, ISS Facility Services required all employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, employees were required to return to working at the company’s facility.
The EEOC alleges that Ronisha Moncrief, who had recently been diagnosed with obstructive lung disease, requested an accommodation to continue working from home for two days per week because her past and recent bouts with severe pulmonary disease made her high risk for contracting COVID-19. The company allegedly denied Moncrief’s request for an accommodation, though it allowed other managers to work from home. About a month and a half after Moncrief’s request was denied, the company terminated Moncrief for performance issues. The EEOC seeks a permanent injunction against the company and its officers from engaging in disability discrimination and retaliation, back pay, compensation for past and future pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses, punitive damages, and the Commission’s costs in bringing this lawsuit.  
This case illustrates the EEOC’s view that if an employee has a disability that puts the employee at higher risk of contracting or becoming      Continue Reading...
Mask Use on the Rise as Delta Variant Surges
By: Emily Matta

With COVID-19 cases on the rise due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, federal and local government views on masks are once again evolving. Employers may need to revise existing policies to reflect these developments.

On July 7, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rescinded its previous guidance, which said that fully vaccinated people could safely forego wearing masks indoors. The federal agency now recommends that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public indoor spaces if located in an area of substantial or high transmission. At this time, most Kansas counties are designated “high” transmission areas, including Sedgwick County, Butler County, Shawnee County, Johnson County, and Wyandotte County.
Though the CDC’s guidance is not binding on employers, some state and local governments are reviving mask mandates applicable to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Kansas City, Missouri, for example, announced reinstatement of an indoor mask mandate, effective Aug. 2, 2021, in places of public accommodation. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued Kansas City over the mandate, but it will remain in effect unless and until the court says otherwise.
At this time, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has not issued a state-wide mask mandate – she announced on July 28, 2021 that the issue of reinstituting mask mandates will be left up to Kansas counties. She has, however, announced that state employees, and anyone entering a state building, will be required to wear a mask beginning Aug. 2, 2021.
Employers should also consider their general duty under OSHA to provide workers      Continue Reading...
OFCCP Proposes $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors
By: Emily Matta

On July 22, 2021, the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs published a proposed rule to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors and subcontractors to $15 per hour—a $4.05 increase over the current $10.95 per hour minimum wage. The $15 minimum wage would only apply to workers employed on or in connection with a federal contract, and it will only apply to “new” contracts—those entered on or after Jan. 30, 2022, or existing contracts that are renewed or extended on or after Jan. 30, 2022. And, the minimum wage will be recalculated annually, beginning in January 2023, based on the Consumer Price Index.

The proposed rule is open for public comment until Aug. 23, 2021. Federal contractors may, during this period, submit comments explaining how the wage requirement may impact contract prices and costs. The proposed rule would go into effect Jan. 30, 2022. 

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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
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Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
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Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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