[Webinar] Preventing and Responding to Workplace Violence

On Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, Kara M. MacielLindsay A. DiSalvo, and special guest Terri D. Patterson, Ph.D., a Principal at Control Risks and threat management expert with over two decades of experience, will present a webinar on Preventing and Responding to Workplace Violence.

In 2020, physical assault was identified as the 4th leading cause of workplace deaths. Nearly 2 million American workers experience violent acts at work annually. As the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering the endemic phase and workers begin to transition back into the workplace, experts predict even more of an increase in workplace violence. Thus, employers will want to be prepared to prevent these types of incidents and protect their employees to the extent possible, as well as ensure they are doing all that’s required from a regulatory standpoint.

Workplace violence has been a focus for both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) well before the pandemic and remains so now. While OSHA has no specific standard for workplace violence, the OSH Act’s General Duty Clause requires employers to provide Continue reading

Alternatives For Employers Considering Workforce Reduction

By Andrew J. Sommer and Megan S. Shaked

This article addresses alternatives to reductions in force, or RIFs.[1] An RIF is an involuntary termination of employment, usually due to budgetary constraints, changes in business priorities or organizational reorganization, where positions are eliminated with no intention of replacing them.

Because RIFs can be costly to implement, increase the potential for employment lawsuits and lower morale of the remaining employees, employers may consider alternatives such as furloughs, voluntary separation programs, or VSPs, and early retirement incentive plans, or ERIPs.

Such alternatives can help reduce employers’ labor costs or workforce while avoiding or minimizing adverse consequences associated with a RIF.

This article discusses each of these alternatives to RIFs in detail to help you and your employer client decide which alternative is best under the circumstances:

Furloughs

One alternative to a RIF is a furlough.

Furloughs are temporary layoffs or some other modification of normal working hours without pay for a specified duration. The structure of furloughs can vary. For instance, in some furloughs employees have consecutive days of nonduty — for example, taking the first two weeks of each month off — or take off a designated day each week.

In another example, the employee may take a certain number of days off each month, but which days those are may vary from month to month. Some employers may allow employees to choose which days to take off on their furlough. A furlough may also be a temporary layoff, where the employee remains employed with a predeterminated return date, which may be extended depending on the circumstances.

Furloughs can eliminate the need for a RIF in some cases by reducing the employer’s payroll costs. However, even on unpaid days, furloughed employees do cost the employer something, because employees on a furlough usually receive employment benefits. In a unionized workforce, employers must negotiate the furlough terms and schedule with the union.

Key Pros and Cons of Furloughs Versus RIFs

There are several pros and cons to consider when determining whether a furlough is a good alternative to a RIF. The advantages of furloughs over RIFs include:

Employers avoid employment terminations and the attendant potential legal liability.

Employees don’t lose their jobs.

Continue reading

Conn Maciel Carey LLP Expands Midwest Workplace Safety Practice With Addition of OSHA Defense Attorney Anthony Casaletta – a Former Michigan OSHA Official

Detroit, MI (September 29, 2022) – Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based boutique law firm with a national focus on OSHA/MSHA • Workplace Safety and Labor & Employment, is pleased to announce that Anthony Casaletta has become an Of Counsel attorney with the firm.

Mr. Casaletta, an OSHA defense attorney, is based in the Detroit area in Michigan, where he counsels and defends employers in a wide range of workplace health and safety matters conducted by Federal OSHA and State OSH Plans, including particularly, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“MIOSHA”). He also supports employers in all aspects of OSHA and MIOSHA enforcement, from managing on-site inspections and investigations, to litigating contested citations through ALJ hearings and appeals, and counseling on compliance with OSHA rules and standards.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to join Conn Maciel Carey’s deep bench of talented attorneys,” said Mr. Casaletta. “I was drawn to the firm by their stellar reputation as go-to legal advisors for OSHA workplace safety matters. I look forward to collaborating with the team on industrial hygiene, safety, and all manner of OSHA regulatory matters.”

Prior to entering private practice as an OSHA defense attorney, Mr. Casaletta spent 18 years with Michigan OSHA (“MIOSHA”) in various roles, Continue reading

Hurricane Headaches: HR Tips for Employers

By: Kara M. Maciel

As hurricane season begins, and Hurricane Ian being the first to make landfall in the Southeastern United States, employers need to make sure their employees, customers, and guests are safe from the storms.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes have posed unique human resource (HR) challenges from wage-hour to FMLA leave and the WARN Act. The best protection is to have a plan in place in advance to ensure your employees are paid and well taken care of during a difficult time.

Although no one can ever be fully prepared for such natural disasters, it is important to be aware of the federal and state laws that address these situations. Our guidance can be used by employers in navigating through the legal and business implications created by events such as hurricanes.  In addition, the information may be applicable to other crises and disasters, such as fires, flu epidemics and workplace violence.

Frequently Asked Questions 

If a work site is closed because of the weather or cannot reopen because of damage and/or loss of utilities, am I required to pay affected employees? Continue reading

How to Best Ensure ADA Compliance for Your Property’s Website [Webinar Recording]

On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, Jordan B. Schwartz and Megan S. Shaked presented a webinar regarding How to Best Ensure ADA Compliance for Your Property’s Website.

Another year has gone by, and yet the lawsuits filed against hotels and other places of public accommodation alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) continues to increase. We still see hundreds of lawsuits filed each month against hotels for their failure to identify and describe accessible features at their properties in sufficient detail on their websites. Many of these lawsuits continue to allege that Online Travel Agencies (“OTAs”) such Expedia, Hotels.com, or Orbitz fail to provide information about the accessible amenities of the hotel, including its rooms, to individuals with disabilities, or fail to allow an individual with a disability to book an accessible guestroom. While it may seem counterintuitive that a Hotel would be responsible for the information provided on the OTAs website, that often is the case.

A ton of ADA lawsuits also continue to be filed every day alleging that hotel websites cannot be used by individuals with visual or hearing impairments (in particular websites that utilize PDFs). Thus, it is extremely important that businesses ensure the accessibility of their websites while also providing an appropriate “accessibility statement” explaining to users the steps you have taken to improve your website’s accessibility.

During this webinar, participants learned: Continue reading

California Confirms Meal and Rest Period Claims are a Hook for Attorney’s Fees Awards

By Samuel Rose and Megan Shaked

A few months ago, we wrote a blog article on the California Supreme Court’s decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., which held that premium pay for meal and rest break violations is considered “wages,” paving the way to award waiting time and wage statement penalties based on meal/rest period violations alone. We noted that the practical impact of the Naranjo decision could be to encourage class action and PAGA (Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act) litigation within California by providing further remedies in meal and rest period litigation and inflating the settlement value of these cases.

Now, we are starting to see the real impacts of the Naranjo decision. The California Court of Appeal has issued its decision in Betancourt v. OS Restaurant Services, LLC after remand from the Supreme Court with instructions to reconsider its initial opinion in light of Naranjo. Originally, the Court of Appeal decided in Betancourt that, based on Kirby v. Inmoos Fire Protection, Inc. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244, an action brought for failure to provide meal and rest breaks is not based on nonpayment of wages. That meant that the Plaintiff could not recover for waiting time penalties and wage statement violations, and that the Plaintiff could not recover attorney fees under Labor Code section 218.5(a).

In applying Naranjo, the Court of Appeal in Betancourt had to reverse course, confirming that Continue reading

[Webinar] How to Best Ensure ADA Compliance for Your Property’s Website

On Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Jordan B. Schwartz and Megan S. Shaked for a webinar regarding How to Best Ensure ADA Compliance for Your Property’s Website.

Another year has gone by, and yet the lawsuits filed against hotels and other places of public accommodation alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) continues to increase. We still see hundreds of lawsuits filed each month against hotels for their failure to identify and describe accessible features at their properties in sufficient detail on their websites. Many of these lawsuits continue to allege that Online Travel Agencies (“OTAs”) such Expedia, Hotels.com, or Orbitz fail to provide information about the accessible amenities of the hotel, including its rooms, to individuals with disabilities, or fail to allow an individual with a disability to book an accessible guestroom. While it may seem counterintuitive that a Hotel would be responsible for the information provided on the OTAs website, that often is the case.

A ton of ADA lawsuits also continue to be filed every day alleging that hotel websites cannot be used by individuals with visual or hearing impairments (in particular websites that utilize PDFs). Thus, it is extremely important that businesses ensure the accessibility of their websites while also providing an appropriate “accessibility statement” explaining to users the steps you have taken to improve your website’s accessibility.

During this webinar, participants will learn about: Continue reading

What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus [Webinar Recording]

On September 6, 2022, Kara M. MacielEric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell presented a webinar regarding What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus.

On July 23rd, the World Health Organization declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases, and the Biden Administration declared it a public health emergency. While the Monkeypox Virus is less transmissible than COVID-19 and rarely fatal in its current form, there are still workplace safety and health considerations employers will have to address.

Participants in this webinar learned: Continue reading

Ninth Circuit Continues to Write the Story of Employment Arbitration Agreements in California

By: Samuel S. Rose

For our readers who are following the ongoing battle over employer arbitration agreements in California, you have probably been following the legal battle over AB 51 (2019), which added section 432.6 to the California Labor Code. When AB 51 was first signed by the governor, we expected that it would be challenged based on preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act. Litigation did ensue and, as we wrote about in this article, the district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing AB 51 from going into effect. Continue reading

What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus

On Tuesday, September 6, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Kara M. Maciel, Eric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell for a webinar regarding What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus.

On July 23rd, the World Health Organization declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases, and the Biden Administration declared it a public health emergency. While the Monkeypox Virus is less transmissible than COVID-19 and rarely fatal in its current form, there are still workplace safety and health considerations employers will have to address.

Participants in this webinar will learn: Continue reading