• Posts by Mark J. Chumley
    Partner

    Mark Chumley has experience representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has handled numerous cases before state and federal courts and state and federal civil rights agencies, including claims ...

As the COVID-19 threat lingers and businesses look for ways to protect their employees, there has been a lot of talk about contact tracing in the workplace.  As the name suggests, contact tracing is a process of determining who an infected individual has had contact with and possibly exposed to a disease. This is not a new process and in the past has been done by interviewing people to create lists of exposed individuals who could be warned or isolated.  With modern technology, there are a lot more options, some of which employers are considering using in the workplace.

As businesses begin the process of re-opening, many are finding that due to changed conditions, they are overstaffed. One possible solution to this problem is a reduction in force (RIF). In planning a RIF, there are a great many factors for employers to consider in the current environment, including the points listed below.

As employers bring employees back into the workplace, many are considering various forms of testing as a means to promote employee safety. While some forms of testing are fairly straightforward, such as taking employees’ temperatures, laboratory testing for COVID-19 is not as simple. 

As Ohio businesses prepare to re-open, a question that has frequently come up is what to do about employees who refuse to return to work. We are referring to employees who are not sick or under any quarantine orders but do not want to return to work. Their reluctance is usually based on (1) fear of being exposed to COVID-19, (2) a lack of childcare because schools and daycares are closed or social distancing with nannies or other family members, or (3) making more money by staying home and collecting unemployment than they would by returning to work. 

Yesterday, the Governor issued guidance for the partial re-opening of Ohio’s economy.  The guidance includes specific directions for employers whose employees will be returning to work in several business sectors. 

Last week I wrote about a number of ongoing COVID-19 issues for employers to consider.  The issue of trade secrets in the current environment is also worth considering.  I would wager that in my twenty plus years of practicing employment law, there has never been a time when employers’ trade secrets are less secure than they are right now.  Everyone was caught off guard by the pandemic and businesses had to react to maintain operations, often by allowing telework on an unprecedented level.

By now, most employers have taken a variety of steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including, for example, furloughs, pay cuts, telework arrangements and outright closures. Talk has now turned to restarting the economy and returning to some semblance of normal life. As we enter this next phase of an unprecedented situation, employers should consider several issues. The following list is by no means exhaustive but touches on some of the key concerns for employers.

Late last week the DOL issued two additional sets of guidance on the FFCRA to answer many of the pressing questions employers have been asking as they prepare for its April 1, 2020 effective date.  The guidance is in FAQ format and covers a wide variety of topics over a current total of 59 questions and answers. Some of the highlights include:

The spread of COVID-19 as well as the responses of federal, state and local governments continues to create unprecedented challenges for employers. The following is a non-comprehensive list of some of the most frequent questions we are fielding from employers.

For all employers closely following the Coronavirus situation, here is a list of the latest guidance from government resources:

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