Katie A. Collins in Law360: Employer Duties As Pandemic, Caregiver Law Evolve

This article was first published on Law360 on July 11, 2022.  Reprinted by permission.

For many of us, the pandemic has changed where we work, how we work and the things we are juggling while we work since March 2020. The number of individuals who are acting as caregivers while also working full-time or part-time jobs outside of the house is at an all-time high.[1]

Caregiving responsibilities extend to spouses and children, parents and other older family members, and relatives with disabilities.

Department Of Homeland Security Ends the COVID-19 Temporary Policy For Expired List B Identity Documents

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) adopted a temporary policy in response to the difficulties many individuals experienced with renewing documents.  As part of that temporary policy, employers were permitted to consider expired List B identity documents when completing the Form I-9 (“Employment Eligibility Verification”) which is required for employment in the United States.

The EEOC’s New Guidance Says Discrimination Against “Caregivers” May Violate Federal Law

On March 14, 2022, the EEOC released a new technical assistance guidance document entitled “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Caregiver Discrimination Under Federal Employment Discrimination Law.

Essentially, the guidance reiterates that an employer may not discriminate against an applicant or employee under federal law on the basis of protected classes such sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), race, color, religion, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.  However, the purpose of the guidance is to illustrate how discrimination on the basis of a protected class can occur, possibly even inadvertently, if employers make assumptions and decisions based on an applicant’s or employee’s caregiving obligations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

San Francisco Issues Updated Guidance on San Francisco Paid Sick Leave During the Pandemic

The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) issued new guidance on February 2, 2022 pertaining to the use of San Francisco Paid Sick Leave during the pandemic. This new guidance supersedes OLSE’s March 24, 2020 guidance.

While the February 2, 2022 guidance shares much of the same language as the March 24, 2020 guidance, San Francisco employers should be aware of the following changes:

Federal OSHA Withdraws COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

Our Blog has been monitoring the ETS that OSHA issued in November 2021 that mandated employers of 100 or more employees to require their employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations or undergo regular COVID-19 testing instead.  We have kept you informed as this ETS made its way through the courts.  First, implementation of the ETS was stayed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (see blog on 11/18/2021), then the stay was lifted by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (see blog on 12/20/2021), and finally, argument was held before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered that the stay be put back in place after a majority of the Court found that OSHA had exceeded its authority in issuing the ETS (see blog on 12/23/2021 and blog on 1/13/2022). (Please note the Court let stand the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers.)