Stokes Wagner Law Firm
Stokes Wagner

On May 18, 2021, Santa Clara County’s Health Officer passed a public health order requiring businesses to track the vaccination status of their employees, contractors, or volunteers by June 1, 2021. Businesses must now take steps to determine whether each of their employees is fully vaccinated or not, regardless of whether they are working remotely or on-site. They must also maintain records for each staff member reflecting that person’s vaccinated status.

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On January 1, 2021, Georgia joined 41 other states in allowing a person to remove certain convictions from their criminal record after a period of “conviction-free” years. With the passage of SB 288, an individual of any age may petition their original sentencing court to restrict and seal the record of a misdemeanor offense four years after they have completed their sentence. The individual can make this petition as long as they have not been convicted of a new offense in those four years and do not have any pending charges.

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On April 21, 2021, the City of Chicago passed the “Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance,” which allows all workers in Chicago—including independent contractors—to get vaccinated during their work hours. The Ordinance went into effect immediately on April 21, 2021, and applies to employers of any size in the City of Chicago.

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On January 27, 2021, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals let employers know that they cannot use recommendations from psychologists to justify disability discrimination in hiring. In Gibbs v. City of Pittsburgh, 989 F.3d 226 (3d Cir. 2021), the City routinely relied on psychologists to evaluate applicants for jobs as police officers. The plaintiff in Gibbs had aced the written test and received a conditional job offer, but two of the three psychologists who interviewed him recommended against his hiring because of his ADHD diagnosis and some criminal history as a youth, which occurred before he began treatment for his ADHD. The trial court dismissed his complaint essentially because it found that passing the psychological test was a prerequisite for the job and concluded that reliance on it did not reflect actionable discrimination. The Third Circuit, however, disagreed.

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On March 11, 2021, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 842. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”) would amend aspects of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by expanding protections of employees’ rights to collectively bargain in the workplace and penalizing companies that violate those rights.

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On April 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a statewide right to recall ordinance (SB 93) into law. SB 93 is effective immediately. SB 93 codifies Labor Code section 2810.8 and requires hotels with more than 50 guestrooms to recall laid-off employees based on hire-date seniority.

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On March 23, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 1480 into law, amending three state statutes. First, the Illinois Human Rights Act is amended to impose employer obligations when making employment decisions based on criminal convictions. Second, the Illinois Business Corporation Act is amended to require EEO-1 reporting to the state. Third, the Illinois Equal Pay Act is amended to require employers to obtain an “Equal Pay Registration Certificate” by March 24, 2024.

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The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”), signed into law on March 11, 2021, obligates employers to pay COBRA insurance premiums for individuals who suffer job loss. Under the plan, employers receive the subsidy, which they pass along to COBRA enrolled former employees, through a payroll tax credit on quarterly Medicare taxes. The subsidy period is April 1 to September 30, 2021, and both fully insured and self-insured group plans are eligible for the credit.

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On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 95, providing supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-related leaves and absences. The supplemental paid sick leave requirements apply in addition to previous paid time off requirements, such as statutory paid sick leave or vacation time provided by the employer. Although the statute requirements do not begin until March 29, 2021, the requirements will apply retroactively to January 1, 2021, and are effective through September 30, 2021. Employers should move quickly to examine and revise their policies, practices, and payroll records for compliance.

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On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed legislation granting both public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees are entitled to receive paid, job-protected leave “for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection” (i.e., 8 hours of total leave if receiving two shots) to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

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