Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Returning to Work: Forecasting the New Normal in Business

We cannot predict when businesses will reopen across the country. As we publish this Alert, dynamic business leaders are cooperating in comprehensive efforts to create safe work environments so that they can all re-engage the workforce.

However, we can predict the new normal in business. Some important studies were published yesterday, and the new normal in business will be facemasks for all employees, and probably all business visitors.

The scientists at the National Institutes of Health published a study yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine addressing the question of whether the coronavirus can be “aerosolized” when people are speaking. The study advises that the coronavirus can be aerosolized and transmitted between individuals who speak in-person.

In an accompanying commentary to the study, a Harvard University biologist remarked that those aerosols from infected persons may pose a threat, “even at considerable distances and in enclosed spaces,” and identified the wearing of a masks as a prophylactic measure.

Additionally, Nature Medicine published its study yesterday finding that individuals may be infectious for two to three days before showing symptoms of Covid-19.    

What does this mean for employers?

Start sourcing facemasks now. Whether essential or non-essential, healthcare or non-healthcare, all employers will need to have facemasks for employees, and probably visitors, in order to return to new normal operations.  

When combining the studies and the commentary, it makes the current preventative measures (six-foot rule, temperature at door, sending sick employees home, etc.) look less effective than believed. Speaking can be as dangerous as coughs and sneezes. Either by governmental order, regulatory requirement, or to avoid novel claims by employees, employers will need to provide facemasks. 

We expect that additional requirements will also be issued before businesses will reopen, so it probably makes sense to start sourcing disinfectant products at the same time.

For additional information, please contact Jeffrey C. Miller, jcmiller@bmdllc.com or 216.658.2323, or any member of the L+E Team at BMD

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

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.