Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

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Title VII to Protect LGBTQ Community

It is not every day that the United States Supreme Court issues a decision that dramatically changes the workplace, but it happened this week. In a landmark decision captioned as Bostock v. Clayton County, issued by the Court on June 15th, the Court ruled that federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “sex” will now include protections for individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, transgender, and gender identity.

On its face, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides, in pertinent part, that it is an “unlawful employment practice for an employer” to discriminate against an individual “because of such individual’s race, color, sex, or national origin” (emphasis added).

In the decades since its passing, courts across the country have grappled with the meaning of “sex” within the text of Title VII and the extent of its coverage; however, today, the Court clarified that “sex” includes sexual orientation, transgender, and gender identity, extending employment protections to these protected classes of people.

Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court in which he writes:

In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires [or discriminates against] an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.

This is a very important decision for all employers in America to recognize and follow as it will surely lead to liability and lawsuits for those employers that choose to ignore it. Practically, this decision prohibits an employer from considering an employee’s sexual orientation, transgender, or gender identification when making decisions concerning hiring, discipline, pay rate, job duties, and termination. As a result, employers should take this ruling as an opportunity to update employee handbooks and ensure provisions reflect the newly identified protected classes. As an additional measure, employers should use this decision as an opportunity to conduct re-trainings for all employees to ensure company-wide compliance with anti-discrimination and harassment policies, including the recent protections afforded to the LGBTQ community. Finally, this decision should spark employers to consider purchasing or reviewing their current Employment Practices Liability Insurance (“EPLI”) plan to ensure protection in the event of claims arising out of this decision.

Bryan Meek is a member of Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Employment & Labor team and is available to assist you with responding to requests for information and/or appealing unfavorable unemployment decisions. Bryan can be reached at 330.253.5586, or bmeek@bmdllc.com

Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Today, three Covid-19 vaccines have tested as highly effective (90%+ efficacy) and are advancing in the process for emergency use. This is especially welcome news in Ohio, which has skyrocketing cases and our strategic response has been to turn the entire state into the small town of Bomont with strict curfews and bans on social gatherings.

Did You Receive More than $750,000 in Provider Relief Funds?

The Provider Relief Funds (“PRF”) - authorized under the CARES Act - has been a vital tool for health care providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These funds have allowed providers to stay open and continue to offer care during these pressing times. While helpful, these funds do come with several important obligations. First, fund recipients are required to comply with certain record-keeping requirements as well as comply with certain balance billing prohibitions. See our Client Alert. Second, fund recipients are required to report their intent, use of funds, and other data elements, which helps promote transparency to the federal government. Please see our Client Alert on provider relief fund reporting requirements. Third, and perhaps a new concept for many providers, fund recipients of more than $750,000 must undergo a “single audit” to ensure program compliance and appropriate use of funds.

Important Updates Every Provider Should Know: Information Blocking

In December 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures Act”) which: (1) authorized funding for the National Institutes of Health to promote medical research and drug development, (2) implemented provisions aimed at addressing the prevention and treatment of mental illness and substance abuse, and (3) reformed certain standards of the Medicare program and federal tax laws to foster healthcare access and quality improvement.

PPP Update: Loan Necessity Questionnaires

On October 26, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) published a notice in the Federal Register which foreshadowed the release of two new forms seeking information from for-profit and nonprofit organizations that received Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans of $2 million or more. If approved, the SBA would use information from these forms to evaluate and determine whether economic uncertainty made a PPP loan request necessary.

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart