Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Employer Liability for COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

As employers encourage or require employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, they should be aware of OSHA recording obligations and potential workers’ compensation liability.

Though OSHA has yet to revise its COVID-19 guidance in response to the latest CDC recommendations, OSHA has revised its position regarding the recording of injury or illness resulting from the vaccine. Until now, OSHA required an employer to record an adverse reaction when the vaccine was required for employees and the injury or illness otherwise met the recording criteria (work-related, a new case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria). OSHA has reversed course and announced that it will not require recording adverse reactions until at least May 2022, irrespective of whether the employer requires the vaccine as a condition of employment. In its revised COVID-19 FAQs, OSHA states:

DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.

This is welcome news and will help facilitate employers’ proactive efforts to protect employees and maintain a safe workplace.

Ohio workers’ compensation law, however, is not so clear. In 1934, the Ohio Supreme Court held in Spicer Mfg. Co. v. Tucker that an employee’s death resulting from a smallpox vaccination was covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The decision was based primarily upon the fact that the employer required the employee to obtain the vaccine as a condition of continued employment.

Scant precedent since the Spicer decision includes the 2016 Eighth District Court of Appeals decision in Rolsen v. Walgreen Co. In Rolsen, an employee filed a workers’ compensation claim after experiencing adverse symptoms from a pneumonia vaccine. The court of appeals held that the illness was not sustained in the course of employment since the vaccine was encouraged but not required by the employer. The court of appeals arrived at this conclusion despite the fact that the employee received the vaccine on the employer’s premises during the employee’s working hours.

Ohio Industrial Commission decisions vary and do not provide a great deal of guidance to employers. However, careful implementation of a vaccine policy can substantially mitigate an employer’s workers’ compensation liability for adverse reactions. For assistance in developing such a policy and for the latest OSHA updates, please contact BMD Labor + Employment Member Stephen Matasich at sematasich@bmdllc.com.

What Telemedical Barriers Practices Face and How They Can Manage Them

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many businesses and industries having to rapidly adapt new practices in order to stay profitable, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Although telehealth tools and practices have existed and been used since the Vietnam War, the pandemic has caused many individual healthcare practices to heavily rely on telehealth as a large portion of their service mix in order to continue to provide care for patients. Because of this rapid adoption of telehealth practices in order to combat the restrictions of COVID-19, the telemedicine industry’s revenue has exploded in the last year. Experts predict that telehealth will continue to grow in use beyond the current pandemic, estimating the industry’s worth to be $25 billion by 2025. However, this rapid adoption of telehealth was prompted out of need and has not been without its own barriers that practices now face.

Which Entity Should I Form When Starting a New Business?

As a tax law attorney, friends and acquaintances ask me this question all the time: what type of entity should I form when starting a new business? With many business options available it can be confusing determining which business structure would be appropriate. Below is a general overview of each business structure and the tax responsibilities of each.

IRS to Start Automatically Sending Advanced Child Tax Credit Payments in July

The American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) expands the Child Tax Credit for tax year 2021. In addition to expanding the Child Tax Credit, the Act provides for advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit. Beginning in July, the IRS will automatically send Advanced Child Tax Credit payments to eligible taxpayers based on their 2020 tax return (or 2019 tax return if the 2020 tax return has not been filed and processed yet). The amount of the advanced payment will be up to $300 each month for each qualifying child under 6 years old at the end of 2021 and $250 each month for each qualifying child between 6 and 17 years old at the end of 2021. For example, if you have 2 qualifying children, one 4 years old and one 8 years old, you may receive up to $550 each month in advance child tax credit payments.

Employment Law After Hours: CDC SAYS NO MORE MASKS FOR VACCINATED PEOPLE: What does this mean for employers and employees?

This morning, ELAH published an emergency episode discussing the questions employers sent us since the CDC’s release of its revised mask guidance late last week. This episode explores questions such as whether an employer can allow vaccinated people to go without masks, while requiring unvaccinated people to wear a mask, whether employers can inspect an employee’s vaccine card, and it discusses the risks of liability an employer faces based on the decisions and policies it makes following the release of this CDC guidance, along with many other questions.

COVID, Privacy and More! New Challenges for Physicians in 2021

While hopefully we are coming out of the pandemic, the legal repercussions related to legislative initiatives and other actions during that time continue to apply to businesses in general and healthcare practices. It is a helpful reminder that practices make certain that they maintain accurate records in order to satisfy the reporting requirements under the various COVID-related bills and protect yourself from future employment claims.