Jared Pelissier and Debra Jayroe of the Woodruff Sawyer law firm have posted on the likelihood of an increase in employment claims as businesses reopen after COVID-19 closures. The pandemic has resulted in new laws enacted or proposed (180 new laws drafted in 75 days). Equal employment opportunity commissions are seeing record discrimination filings. When courts reopen we can expect a surge of employment-related claims.
New laws affecting employers include the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requiring employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and not discharge, discipline or discriminate against employees who take it. Federal and state WARN Acts require advance notice of closings or layoffs, which would apply if businesses are affected by a resurgence of illness. Employees without health insurance can apply for COBRA. Because of the high level of unemployment we can expect claims alleging wrongful termination based on age, gender or race. Discrimination and harassment claims may be filed by Asian-Americans. COVID-19 screening can raise issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or privacy laws.
Employers will need to update their employment handbooks to incorporate new laws and procedures. (Employees should sign off on the revisions.) Employment Practices Liability (EPLI) policies must be reviewed and kept current.
These employment issues must be handled by professionals. Get advice on the new laws from employment lawyers. Beacon Insurance can review your EPLI policy, guide you through renewal applications which may require additional information, and monitor policies for changes which may expand or restrict coverage.
P.S. The XpertHR website has a detailed guide "How to Comply with EEOC Return to Work Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic".