COVID-19

As employers nationwide have begun to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the workplace, legal questions have been presented as to whether these vaccine requirements are legally permissible under various laws. While the EEOC has issued guidance that generally permits mandatory vaccine requirements in the workplace so long as reasonable accommodations are offered for those with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs, questions still remained as to whether mandatory workplace vaccine requirements were permissible under other laws, such as the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), given the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process. DOJ’s July 6, 2021, Memorandum Opinion now…
Yesterday the CDC issued new guidance recommending Americans to “wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.” The site includes a link so individuals can search their particular county to find out if transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high.  As of the date of this writing, Ruder Ware’s office locations in Brown County, Eau Claire County, and Marathon County all remain at “moderate” transmission levels according to the CDC.  The CDC guidance and county search engine can be found here. This new guidance comes on the heels of the Department…
In light of increasing concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant in the United States, the CDC has revised its recommendations regarding masks for fully vaccinated individuals. Although the CDC has reiterated that infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, people who are fully vaccinated may spread the virus to others. To stop the spread of COVID-19 and particularly the Delta variant, the CDC is recommending that those who are in an area of substantial or high transmission should wear a mask in public indoor settings, even if they are fully vaccinated. OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just recently confirmed what had been surmised all along:  that employers can incentivize employees to get the COVID19 vaccine. However, as expected, there are some caveats and conditions that accompany this decision. If You Merely Ask Employees for Proof of Vaccination by a Third-Party, Incentives to Vaccinate are OK. According to the new EEOC guidance, an employer may incentivize employees to encourage the employee and their family members to get the COVID19 vaccine. The EEOC reasons that such incentives would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Genetic Information…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on June 24 that it is extending its order, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, set to expire on June 30, until July 31. In issuing this extension, the CDC indicated that this is intended to be the final extension. The content of the moratorium remains the same as the that of the previous extension, in March of 2021. As a reminder, you can review our KEW Tip on that extension here. Landlords should remember that valid declaration forms provided by tenants in the…
On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued the highly-anticipated guidance on incentive programs, giving employers the green light to offer employees incentives to either receive the COVID-19 vaccine or verify their vaccination status. In January 2021, the EEOC rescinded its proposed regulations on wellness programs. Under the previous guidance, wellness programs could only involve de minimis incentives like a water bottle or “a gift card of modest value.” Thus, there was concern that the incentives offered by companies to encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine would violate the wellness program rules. Under the EEOC’s new…
Today the EEOC updated its FAQ at Section K regarding vaccination requirements in the workplace.  It also issued guidance for employees and job applicants entitled “Federal Laws Protect You Against Employment Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Main takeaways from the EEOC’s update are as follows: The EEOC confirms that employers can require employees to get the vaccine before physically returning to the workplace BUT must engage in the interactive process to determine if employees with disabilities or religious beliefs that prevent them from getting the vaccine can be accommodated. [See EUA note below.] Employer can require employees to…
Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series (such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines), or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.2 Individuals who do not meet these requirements are not considered fully vaccinated: They are still subject to the prior masking and social distancing requirements. The CDC stated that individuals with compromised immune systems still may not be fully protected after vaccination. After individuals are fully vaccinated, they may resume activities that were conducted prior to the pandemic. This can be done without wearing a mask or staying six feet…
On Monday, May 17, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) posted a notice on its website, addressing the recent guidelines Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) recent guidance that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing. OSHA’s notice indicates that the agency is “reviewing the recent CDC guidance” and will update its guidance accordingly. In the meantime, OSHA has instructed employers to “refer to the CDC guidance for information on measures appropriate to protect fully vaccinated workers.” OSHA’s guidance remedies an inconsistency that previously existed between the CDC’s guidance and OSHA’s…
Unless you have been in a cave, you are aware that on May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that individuals who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear a face covering in many settings. (CDC Guidance) Many of you shouted “HOORAY!” when you heard this news as you hoped it meant some relief from masks in your workplaces.  Unfortunately, what complicates this issue is that the CDC’s announcement specifically excludes “federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”  As you review your…
On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) abruptly issued guidance stating fully vaccinated individuals can, subject to certain exceptions, resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. The non-binding guidance comes as more than half of eligible adults in the United States have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. An individual is considered “fully vaccinated” either: Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. The guidance is…
There are two new developments on the OSHA COVID-19 front to report.  First, yesterday, OSHA sent a draft of a new, mandatory, temporary emergency standard on COVID-19 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.  Up to now, OSHA has not had a mandatory standard in place to deal with the coronavirus, relying instead on guidances it has issued and on the General Duty Clause for enforcement efforts. As soon as President Biden took office, he directed OSHA to determine whether a mandatory temporary emergency standard on COVID-19 was needed and, if so, to issue it by March…
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The mask mandate previously applied to all enclosed spaces open to the public within Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said, however, that Governor Evers overstepped his authority by extending the public health emergency without legislative approval, thus making the statewide mask mandate invalid. While the statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, employers should continue to monitor their local requirements as the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not affect local municipalities’ ability to institute their own mask mandates. Dane County, Rock County,…
In a 4-3 Decision written by Justice Brian Hagedorn, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate intended as a use of the emergency powers of a governor under Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 323 to combat the emergent threat of the Coronavirus. The Court held that Governor Evers violated state law by unilaterally issuing multiple emergency orders to extend the emergency declarations and mask mandate beyond an initial 60 day period. The Court found that the statute contemplates an end to such orders (60 days after the declaration) and that the decision to extend such orders resides with…
Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, held that the Governor is prohibited from declaring successive states of emergency in regards to the same enabling condition without legislative approval. This means that Democratic Governor Tony Evers is prohibited from issuing any new public health emergency orders as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic without the approval of the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. The Court struck down Executive Order 105, and as a result, the statewide mask mandate has been eliminated. However, local mask mandates remain in place in counties, municipalities, on university properties, and on tribal lands…
In welcome news for renters across the country, the Centers for Disease Control have extended the current Eviction Moratorium, which was set to expire on Wednesday, until June 30th. Under the extended order, residential tenants cannot be evicted from their homes solely for non-payment of rent, provided they give their Landlords (or Landlord’s agent) a signed copy of the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration Form (link below). (Note also that tenants who previously provided their Landlords with the Declaration do not need to provide a second copy of the Declaration to take advantage of the “extended” Moratorium). According to some estimates…