Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

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.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: Optimism for the Construction Industry

Looking for good news? If so, you are not alone. Aside from the collective mental, physical and emotional human toll imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire sectors of the economy have been ravaged, and old, familiar ways of doing business have been disrupted. Although deemed essential, the construction industry has not been immune to interruption and uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Amid new health and safety concerns, coupled with financial uncertainty, progress on projects has slowed, and the start dates for a number of new projects slated to begin in 2020 have been deferred. However, resilience has always been a trademark of contractors, subcontractors and other industry professionals. Reports indicate that while the construction industry lost more than one million jobs February through April, at least 600,000 of those jobs had been gained back by the end of June.

Yard Sign Do’s and Don’ts: How to Avoid Legal Challenges to Municipal Sign Codes this Election Season

As the nation heads into the tail end of the 2020 general election, municipalities will inevitably face challenges as they seek to regulate the seasonal proliferation of yard signs on residential property. While the matter may seem trifling, a seemingly benign yet content-based sign ordinance can result in significant legal exposure for municipalities that have not heeded recent Supreme Court decisions on content neutrality.