Ohio Employment Law Matters

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Governor DeWine signed an executive order on June 16, 2020 that provides exceptions to the general rule that employees may not refuse to return to the workplace following a COVID-19 pandemic layoff or work-at-home situation. Employees with “good cause” may remain at home and refuse to work and still receive unemployment benefits. Good cause includes: Employee is over the age of 65; A medical professional’s recommendation that an individual not return to work because the…
The U.S. Department of Labor announced June 24 that it will no longer automatically pursue double damages for overtime and minimum wage violations when it seeks to settle claims prior to filing suit. This new policy is effective July 1, 2020. This announcement follows an executive order by President Trump to eliminate regulations and enforcement policies that will impact the economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The DOL clarified that it…
OSHA released a guide to nonessential businesses on safely returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses should review this guidance, keeping in mind that businesses have a duty under OSHA’s general duty clause to keep employee’s safe. Following this guidance could operate as a defense to an employee safety complaint related to COVID-19 protections. OSHA divides the reopening of non-essential businesses in terms of three phases: Phase 1: Limit in person work and observe…
Don’ts: Don’t involuntarily exclude employees based on being over the age of 65 and thus “high risk” for contracting COVID-19. Doing so is illegal, even if the motivation is to keep the employees safe. Likewise, don’t involuntarily exclude pregnant workers based on perceived virus risk to the employee or her child. Don’t require COVID-19 antibody testing as a condition of workplace re-entry. Dos: Engage in an individualized assessment as to whether an employee with a disability…
Some businesses are considering limiting their liability from COVID-19 infections in their facilities and workplaces through liability waivers for employees, guests, and other visitors. Are they a good idea? Probably not. Here’s why. Employee waivers Employer return-to-work COVID-19 waivers are problematic for a variety of reasons, most notably, the fact that they are likely an impermissible prospective (future) waiver of workers’ compensation claims. Basically, workers cannot release their claims under workers’ compensation laws for illnesses…
Governor DeWine expanded Ohio’s responsible restart program and added several categories of businesses to the list of businesses that may reopen beginning June 10th: Aquariums Art galleries Country clubs Ice skating rinks Indoor family entertainment centers Indoor sports facilities Laser tag facilities Movie theaters (indoor) Museums Playgrounds (outdoor) Public recreation centers Roller skating rinks Social clubs Trampoline parks Zoos Sector specific operating requirements are available here. The following remain closed: K-12 schools Certain spectator…
Businesses that took PPP loans now have more flexibility to spend the money than the original CARES Act and the IRS and SBA regulations permitted. More information and regulations on this new expansion should be forthcoming. The law is the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (HR 7010). Among the changes: Extends the covered period to spend the PPP funds from 8 to 24 weeks (or 12/31/20), whichever is first; Extends the date…
The CDC issued updated guidance for employers, including a user-friendly checklist for employers to prepare workplaces for return to work. Among the recommendations: Encourage employees to stay home when sick; provide flexible sick leave Physically ensure separation among employees Promote hygiene – frequent hand washing and sanitizing Post CDC posters on hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette Encourage employees to wear cloth face coverings when social distancing is difficult to maintain Consider daily in-person…
The SBA issued new rules for PPP loans–most of which I already gleaned from the PPP loan forgiveness application form in my post on May 19th. Congress also is considering various proposals that would loosen many of the restrictions on the use of PPP loan amounts, relative to loan forgiveness. Recall that PPP loans are authorized by the CARES Act and provide for forgiveness of up to 100% of the principal amount spent for…
Without advance notice or request for comment, OSHA issued a revised enforcement memo stating that it will enforce record keeping requirements as they apply to confirmed, work-related COVID-19 illness. A COVID-19 case must be recorded on the OSHA 300 log if: It is a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis; It is work-related; and It involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7 (death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to…