Outten & Golden LLP Legal Blog
100 Percent COBRA Subsidies and Continuation Coverage Provided by the American Rescue Plan: What Workers Need to Know
Anyone who lost a job that provided group health insurance knows that COBRA continuation coverage can be a lifesaver. They also know that the costs of maintaining that coverage can be astronomical if not prohibitive, especially for someone looking for a new position. For workers who rely on COBRA coverage or are considering enrolling because of a layoff or termination, President Biden’s recently enacted American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARP) provides significant relief, including subsidies that effectively make health insurance free for several months.
The #MeToo movement isn’t only about revealing abusive conduct by Hollywood moguls and television celebrities. Empowered in part by the strength of this movement, women and men employed in low-wage hourly jobs at McDonald’s and other fast-food franchises are stepping forward to expose sexual harassment and hostile work environments.
COVID-19 has devastated countless individuals and businesses, both economically and personally. Local, state, and federal agencies have hastily authorized economic relief programs to help ease the impact on families, communities, and the national economy. To address community needs, many agencies quickly distributed funds with minimal oversight. To prevent fraud and misuse of federal benefits, members of Congress have introduced proposed legislation called the Coronavirus Oversight and Recovery Ethics (CORE) Act, which also includes critical whistleblower protection provisions.
Guidance Without Protection: Restrictive Federal Court Ruling Limits Rights of New York Whistleblowers Who Report Unsafe COVID-19 Work Conditions
In an unfortunate decision for New Yorkers concerned about COVID-19 in the workplace, a federal judge recently ruled that the state’s whistleblower protection law does not apply to workers who complain about their employer’s failure to follow public health guidance.
The narrow reading of New York Labor Law Section 740 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in HC2, Inc. v. Delaney could have a chilling effect on workers who have legitimate COVID-related concerns about returning to the workplace while the virus remains a threat to their health.
Darnley D. Stewart and Luis Hansen recently obtained a federal appellate victory on behalf of two female pre-trial detainees who were sexually harassed and assaulted by a corrections officer at the Riverhead Jail in Suffolk County, New York. The ruling of the appellate panel – authored by a judge appointed by former President Trump – is significant and creates new law.
Job seekers in Illinois will soon likely have fewer reasons to worry that past convictions will stand in the way of future employment opportunities. The Illinois legislature recently passed amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) that expand “ban the box” protections against employment and hiring discrimination based on criminal history. If signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as expected, SB 1480 will make it more difficult for employers to justify using past convictions for adverse hiring decisions.
According to data from the United States Department of Labor, there are 72 million women ages 16 and over in our country who are currently working or looking for work, accounting for 47 percent of the nation’s total labor force. In many other countries where women are an equally significant and important portion of the workforce, paid family leave is an integral part of encouraging workers to have families and successfully return to the workplace, but when women in the U.S. decide to have children, there is no such federal protection.
In today’s modern economy, the discussion of whether the government should expand federally-mandated parental leave is the subject of intense debate.
U.K. Decision Finding Uber Drivers Are Not Independent Contractors Will Affect Gig Economy Workers on Both Sides of the Atlantic
In a landmark decision on February 19, 2021, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that drivers whom Uber classified as independent contractors would be treated as “workers” subject to U.K. worker rights and employment protections and benefits under the law. The implications for the likes of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub, and other gig economy players may prove dramatic –providing their workers the same wage, leave, vacation, and other benefits as de facto employees.
Job seekers and workers in Philadelphia will soon have fewer worries about whether their criminal or credit histories will stand in the way of potential opportunities. That is due to a series of amendments to Philadelphia’s “Ban The Box” ordinance and other provisions of The Philadelphia Code that further limit the information employers can use when screening candidates and making employment decisions. If you are looking for work in Philadelphia, here is what you need to know about these changes and how they impact your right to be free from employment discrimination based on unrelated criminal history.
While COVID-Related Employment Claims Are on the Rise, Courts May Be Hesitant to Enforce Restrictive Covenants
In recent years, many companies have asked new and continuing employees at all levels to sign non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-recruitment agreements. Sometimes, these restrictive covenants are part of a carefully negotiated employment agreement for an employee managing sensitive or valuable projects. Often, however, these agreements are boilerplate clauses tucked into hiring documents that a new employee may not understand (or even read).
When a worker is subject to restrictive covenants and tries to leave employment and get another job in their field, they may find themselves defending against threats of legal action by their former employer. Workers who are laid off indefinitely or terminated due to the COVID-19 coronavirus may be unpleasantly surprised to find their previous employer attempting to enforce restrictive covenants and prevent them from working for competitors, or worse, a wider range of companies.