Employment Law Update in D.C., MD, VA and Illinois

On Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Daniel C. Deacon and Ashley D. Mitchell for a webinar regarding Employment Law Updates in D.C., MD, VA and Illinois.

CaptureThe District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have enacted or are considering a host of changes that employers need to keep track of in 2022, including increases to the minimum wage and amendments to anti-discrimination laws. Maryland revised its Fair Employment Practices Act to extend the time period for filing a charge of discrimination alleging an unlawful employment practice other than harassment, introduced new requirements for employers to comply with when conducting mass layoffs, amended its leave laws to account for paid bereavement leave, and passed a law permitting employers to file for peace orders on behalf of an employee facing threats or acts of violence in the workplace. The District of Columbia passed a law banning non-compete agreements for almost all employees. Virginia amended its Overtime Wage Act, which now provides overtime protections for employees under state law and establishes a three-year statute of limitations. Virginia also added “disability” to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination under the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA), which came shortly after the VHRA was expanded last year to cover most Virginia employers.

Participants in this webinar will learn about: Continue reading

DOL Guidance Further Underscores Agency’s Focus on Retaliation

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has taken a number of actions during the Biden Administration to express and demonstrate that it is prioritizing protections against investigations of retaliation in the workplace. For example, in November 2021, the DOL, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced a joint initiative to raise awareness about retaliation issues among workers and employers. As part of the initiative, the Agencies made clear that they would be working cooperatively and, per the current Solicitor of Labor, “use all tools available to protect workers from retaliation.” More recently, in March 2022, the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (“FAB”) specifically outlining the anti-retaliation provisions it is charged with enforcing and the elements of retaliation, as well as providing examples of what it would consider retaliation under the various laws and programs.

This FAB is significant not because it kicks off any new or additional enforcement effort by the WHD, but because it Continue reading

Religious and Disability Accommodations in Response to COVID-19 Mandates [Webinar Recordings]

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, Andrew J. Sommer and Lindsay A. DiSalvo presented a webinar regarding Religious and Disability Accommodations in Response to COVID-19 Mandates.

Employee requests for medical and/or religious accommodations in the workplace are not new. However, never before have these accommodation requests been such a hot-button topic, nor have these accommodation requests been used so frequently (and in particular, religious accommodation requests). The imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates has changed that, particularly with regard to religious accommodation requests, which has become the ultimate “gray area,” as both employers and employees alike have learned that sincerely held religious belief can include an employee’s religious-based objection to vaccinations. As a result, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued guidance regarding the obligations of employers under Title VII when an employee presents with a religious objection to a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, which actually builds upon prior EEOC guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations in the employment context. Thus, there are multiple issues that employers need to keep in mind and juggle when addressing these vaccination accommodation requests.

Participants in this webinar learned how to best deal with such requests by their employees, including: Continue reading

Attorney Spotlight – Meet Aaron Gelb!

Aaron R. Gelb is a partner and head of Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s Chicago office where he leads the firm’s Midwest OSHA workplace safety practice. He has more than 25 years’ experience advising and representing clients in relation to inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions involving federal OSHA and state OSH programs and managing the full range of litigation against OSHA.  In support of the firm’s Labor and Employment practice, Aaron defends employers in equal employment opportunity matters in federal and state courts, having tried multiple cases to verdict and obtained the dismissal of more than 300 discrimination charges before the EEOC and fair employment agencies nationwide.

Aaron is frequently asked to speak at conferences, seminars, and industry-specific forums, covering numerous workplace safety and employment topics for events and organizations nationwide including the American Bar Association, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, the American Trucking Associations, and the Chicagoland Safety Conference to name a few. Aaron currently leads the Illinois Manufacturers Association’s workplace safety and health education series which includes quarterly webinars and 4 programs during each week of June, which is safety month.  Aaron also helps curate the firm’s annual webinar series – the OSHA Webinar Series and the Labor and Employment Webinar Series and is a frequent contributor to CMC’s blogs – the OSHA Defense Report and the Employer Defense Report.

In addition to his legal practice, Aaron works closely with CMC’s founding partners to help them realize their vision for the firm’s future, acts as a mentor to new partners and associates, actively recruits lateral partner and associate candidates, and helps craft the firm’s strategic marketing plan, including the firm’s social media efforts. Passionate about ensuring equal access to justice for all, Aaron is an active member of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is a frequent participant in the Northern District of Illinois’ Settlement Assistance Program in which he presents pro se litigants in court-led settlement conferences.  At the height of the pandemic, Aaron served as a panelist during a program focused on compliance and legal concerns facing Black-owned small businesses struggling to survive in the face of COVID-19.

Get to Know Aaron! Continue reading

[Webinar] Religious and Disability Accommodations in Response to COVID-19 Mandates

On Thursday, April 7, 2022 at 1 p.m. ET, join Andrew J. Sommer and Lindsay A. DiSalvo for a webinar regarding Religious and Disability Accommodations in Response to COVID-19 Mandates.

Employee requests for medical and/or religious accommodations in the workplace are not new. However, never before have these accommodation requests been such a hot-button topic, nor have these accommodation requests been used so frequently (and in particular, religious accommodation requests). The imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates has changed that, particularly with regard to religious accommodation requests, which has become the ultimate “gray area,” as both employers and employees alike have learned that sincerely held religious belief can include an employee’s religious-based objection to vaccinations. As a result, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued guidance regarding the obligations of employers under Title VII when an employee presents with a religious objection to a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, which actually builds upon prior EEOC guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations in the employment context. Thus, there are multiple issues that employers need to keep in mind and juggle when addressing these vaccination accommodation requests.

Participants in this webinar will learn how to best deal with such requests by their employees, including: Continue reading

Historic U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Begin for D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

This week, hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee began for D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to  the U.S. Supreme Court, which would make her the fourth woman Justice to serve on the Court at the same time.  President Biden nominated Judge Jackson earlier in March to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer who is retiring after over 20 years on the Court.  The nomination is historic for several reasons and with the hearings occurring during Women’s History month, it is an example of the importance of honoring diversity at all levels of the branches of government. 

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

During the first day of her confirmation hearings, Judge Jackson detailed her personal and professional history.  She spoke in personal terms about her childhood, including her first exposure to the law as a young child while her father was a full-time law student, and her mother supported their family. She introduced her daughters and talked about navigating “the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood.”

Continue reading

New Employment Laws and Updates from the Department of Labor under a Biden Administration [Webinar Recording]

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Lindsay A. DiSalvo and Mark M. Trapp presented a webinar regarding New Employment Laws and Updates from the Department of Labor under a Biden Administration.

CaptureAs we transitioned into the Biden Administration in January 2021, questions swirled about what the Department of Labor (“DOL”) would look like and predictions were made as to the issues and initiatives it would prioritize, as well as what would come of Trump-era DOL policies. Now, almost a year and a half into the President Biden’s term, we reviewed some of the most significant rulemakings and changes we have seen from the DOL under Biden. Though the Emergency Temporary Standards issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration generally took center stage, the DOL promulgated other significant and impactful regulations, particularly in the areas of tipped employees and joint employment.

Specifically, the DOL promulgated a rule that narrowed the standard for whom an employer can take a tip credit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which had been significantly broadened by the DOL under Trump. It also rescinded a rule issued during the Trump Administration that more clearly defined and restricted when a company will be found to be a joint employer.

We also reviewed Continue reading

Both Employees and Employers Benefit from Revisions to Washington, D.C. Paid Leave Law

Just two years after the enactment of Universal Paid Family Leave Act, it appears that thousands of private-sector employees in Washington, D.C. will receive a substantial increase in the annual amount of paid leave to which they are entitled. At the same time, D.C. employers will receive a significant tax cut to the amount they are required to pay to fund this program.Retro,Styled,Alarm,Clock,Covered,Pile,Of,Money,Isolated,On

The Universal Paid Family Leave Act, which took effect in July 2020, allows eligible D.C. employees to take up to (i) eight weeks for parental leave; (ii) six weeks for family medical leave; and (iii) six weeks for personal medical leave.  This program, which is funded through employer-paid taxes, has cost less than previously forecast and now has excess funds. 

As a result, in a letter sent last week to Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, D.C.’s Acting Chief Financial Officer Fitzroy Lee stated that by as early as July 1, 2022, employees will now receive (i) twelve weeks for parental leave; (ii) twelve weeks for family medical leave; and (iii) twelve weeks for personal medical leave. In other words, eligible employees will now be able to take double the amount of paid leave for family medical leave and personal medical leave, and 66% more parental leave, than they currently receive. Eligible employees also will now be entitled to a new benefit of two weeks of paid prenatal leave, which was not previously available.

Employees will not be the sole beneficiary to the changes to the Universal Paid Family Leave Act.  Because of the excess funds currently available, the private employers who pay for this leave program will Continue reading

Conn Maciel Carey LLP Hires Mikel Smith Koon as Chief Operating Officer

Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a boutique law firm with national practices in labor and employment, workplace safety (OSHA and MSHA), and litigation, welcomes Mikel Smith Koon in the new position of Chief Operating Officer.

Ms. Koon brings over 20 years of experience in business management, working with both large corporations and small businesses. For 15 of those years, she ran her own consulting firm, using her expertise in project and people management to service her clients. As Conn Maciel Carey’s COO, she manages essential business processes, ensuring the efficiency of the firm’s business functions. More importantly, she fills a new role made necessary by the firm’s significant growth.

“Being a relatively young firm,” says Eric Conn, Chair of the firm’s OSHA Practice, “we’ve graduated from a startup to an established, national firm. We’ve tripled in size. So, we need someone with the talent, experience and savvy to manage the firm’s growingly complex operations.”

As part of the leadership team, she works directly with the Managing Partners to develop and implement the firm’s strategic plan to elevate CMC to the next level. Continue reading

CDC Relaxes Face Covering and Distancing Guidelines

By Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force

As governors and big city mayors across the country have been allowing indoor masking mandates to expire over the last few weeks, last Friday, February 25th, the CDC unveiled a brand new approach to assessing COVID-19 risks and setting mask and distancing recommendations.   The CDC’s old tool, which measured the number of COVID-19 cases to determine the relevant level of virus transmission in each community had lost its usefulness as it rendered nearly the entire country as high-risk (95% of all counties), even as the number of people getting seriously ill had dropped precipitously this year.

CDC’s new guidelines measure the impact the pandemic by looking at three factors week over week:

  1. New cases per capita (as with the prior guidelines; but also
  2. New COVID-19 related hospital admissions; and
  3. The percentage of area hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Each county will have a weekly “COVID Community Level Rating” that is either Low (green), Medium (yellow) or High (orange).  Each level/color has recommended mitigation strategies, set in the table below:

Here is a link to CDC’s tool to identify the level of COVID-19 transmission in your county.

The big news is that CDC recommends Continue reading