Castle Publications is pleased to distribute the July 2020 update to the Employer’s Guide To COVID-19 And Emerging Workplace Issues. In releasing this update on July 9, 2020, we suggest that recent developments examined throughout the Guide not be viewed in isolation. We encourage readers to consider their own ability to influence others in combatting COVID-19. This should be considered in the context of the disconcerting information concerning the spread of the virus, the surge in new cases, and the data on increasing positivity rates.

While we all share a desire to responsibly re-open businesses, return employees to work, and restore the economy, we share equally in the obligation to do what we can as individuals, acting collectively, to promote conduct that respects the health and safety of others. The pause in the re-opening of businesses and workplaces that has occurred following the Memorial Day holiday activities proves the obvious: Individuals who fail to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic, or who refuse or neglect to act responsibly in the face of science-based mitigation measures, can impede the country’s aspirational goal of returning the economy to the thriving, pre-pandemic status it enjoyed.

Messaging In Workplaces And The Public

Our recent experiences show that it is not sufficient for state and local governments to ask people to wear masks and face coverings, physically distance, frequently wash their hands, and exercise common sense in a manner that respects the health and safety of others in and outside the workplace. The willful disregard of scientifically-based health guidance is not an acceptable philosophy and is certainly not rooted in a constitutional right. We have fundamental rights that include the freedom of speech, religion, and association. The Constitution does not provide a right to infect or endanger others by irresponsible and disrespectful behavior. We can prohibit smoking in workplaces and the public, prohibit speeding and reckless driving, and require drivers to wear seatbelts. Mandating or encouraging science-based mitigation measures serves the interests of businesses, the economy, and each of us.

Recent Statistics Highlight The Reason For Concern And Need For Continued Public Education That Will Assist In The Road To Successful Re-Openings

The data cannot be ignored. It underscores the basis for heightened concern and the need for all of us to join in the efforts to influence others to act appropriately. As of July 9, 2020, America passed new milestones with more than 3,000,000 COVID-19 cases and over 132,000 deaths. A day ago, California reported a record 149 deaths due to COVID-19 in a single day. This has, as mentioned, also disrupted business re-openings, caused layoffs and furloughs, and contributed to 1,300,000 unemployment claims across the country last week. COVID-19 is not subject to state and federal anti-discrimination laws and will attack anyone without regard to protected characteristics or the new Supreme Court case broadening Title VII’s protections. As the NBA has noted, we cannot outrun the virus.

The Scope Of The Update

This update to the Employer’s Guide tracks legal developments in the field, including new legal mandates and guidance. Through these periodic updates during 2020, the Employer’s Guide continues to provide a virtual desk reference that assists businesses and employers to address their legal obligations while promoting safe and productive workplaces for employees. In short, it will continue to provide a resource that assists businesses and employers to navigate workplace issues during the pandemic.

The July 9th update surveys developments in numerous areas that involve federal, state and local government agencies. They include new guidance from the CDC (Chapter 3), EEOC (Chapter 10), Federal OSHA (Chapter 11), and the state counterparts of these federal agencies. The Guide also addresses new pronouncements from selected state and local public health authorities, retaining its focus on laws in California, New York and Illinois. This update also introduces a new chapter (Chapter 14) on the implications of the pandemic under the National Labor Relations Act and includes a checklist businesses can consider when formulating COVID-19 workplace and personnel policies relating to the various topics examined in the Guide (Chapter 16).

The authors hope this will benefit our readers and the public.

Richard Simmons
Brian Murphy
Adam Rosenthal

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