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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA”) Under Attack

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”) went into effect on April 1, 2020 followed closely behind by the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule on the Act which, collectively, describe the obligations of employers as well as the rights of employees under the FFCRA’s paid sick time and expanded family medical leave provisions.

In response to a legal challenge to the FFCRA by the State of New York, on August 3, 2020, a judge out of the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) issued a decision vacating certain provisions of the DOL’s regulations. The SDNY Court found the following:

  • The FFCRA’s definition of “health care provider” is “overly broad” as it encompasses employees “whose [workplace] role bears no nexus whatsoever to the provision of healthcare services;”
  • An employer’s ability to provide an employee work to complete may no longer be considered relevant in assessing eligibility for FFCRA leave;
  • Under certain circumstances, an employee may take intermittent FFCRA leave without first obtaining employer approval;
  • The FFCRA’s notice requirement — obligating an employee to submit notice of intent to take leave prior to actually taking it — is not practicable and therefore, in some instances, may be waived, allowing employees to submit notice after their leave begins.

While attacks on the legality of the FFCRA have been levied since its passage by Congress, this is the first official decision handed down by the judiciary. With that said, the SDNY decision is limited in scope as it applies only to that jurisdiction — leaving open the issue of how other courts, as well as the Department of Labor, will respond to the FFCRA challenges.

As questions, concerns and legal guidance continue to evolve with the changing times, it is essential for employers to stay informed. If you need assistance with any issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, please contract Jeffrey C. Miller (216.658.2323 | jcmiller@bmdllc.com) or Bryan Meek (330.253.5586 | bmeek@bmdllc.com), or any member of the Labor and Employment Team of Brennan, Manna & Diamond LLC.

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.