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As employment law constantly changes, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman stay up to date on the law as it develops. Our blog topics focus on those changes and what you need to know about them, ranging from severance agreements and the FLSA to social media in the workplace and recent court decisions. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Virginia Expands Workplace Protections for Individuals with Disabilities

The rapid evolution of Virginia workplace laws continues with the Virginia General Assembly’s passage of HB 1848, which extends employee workplace protections under the Virginia Human Rights Act (“VHRA”) to include a prohibition on discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The VHRA is applicable to Virginia employers with six or more employees.

Effective July 1, 2021, the VHRA requires employers to engage in the familiar, ADA-like, good faith interactive process to determine whether there are reasonable accommodations available that will allow an otherwise qualified individual with a disability to perform their job. 

The New Virginia Overtime Wage Act: Big Changes are Coming for Many Virginia Employers

In our blog posts last year, we chronicled the sea change in employment laws that has been underway in Virginia, in areas such as misclassifying employees as independent contractors and workplace discrimination. Virginia has had a well-earned reputation as a state with workplace rules and regulations typically favoring businesses over employees. However, the Commonwealth has been pulled in the other direction in recent legislative sessions, with some now considering the state to be more aligned with progressive jurisdictions like California and Massachusetts, with more than a dozen employee-friendly pieces of legislation going into effect in 2020.  

Tackling the New Normal - EEOC Issues Updated Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace

With a significant percentage of individuals now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, businesses are beginning to reopen or expand in-the-office activity in Northern Virginia and across the Commonwealth. On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated and expanded technical assistance targeted to answer some of the frequently asked questions concerning COVID-19 vaccinations in the employment context. 

Fourth Circuit Nixes Appellate Review of Arbitration Award

Ar*bi*tra*tion  -  is a procedure in which the parties opt for a private dispute resolution, instead of going to court, by submitting the dispute to one or more arbitrators to make a binding decision.

Certain businesses routinely utilize employment arbitration agreements, finding them to be an effective means of dealing with the uncertainties of workforce disputes that may arise during employment or after it ends. 

Fourth Circuit Adopts Expansive View of Same-Sex Harassment

A recent decision of a panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals offers an important reminder for employers: There is potential legal risk in ignoring or brushing off an employee who comes forward with complaints of sexual harassment by a supervisor -- even when the employee and supervisor are both of the same sex. Glenn Industrial Group, Inc., a North Carolina-based provider of underwater inspection and repair services to utility companies learned that lesson last week.

The Risks of Engaging Foreign Independent Contractors

In today’s global economy, it has become increasingly common for companies based in the United States to engage workers who live in other countries to provide services as independent contractors. This practice has become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic with the broad expansion of virtual work.  

Companies can save money hiring independent contractors because they do not have to provide benefits, office space, or equipment to contractors or pay taxes on compensation paid to contractors. Companies can often save even more money engaging contractors from other countries due to lower labor costs. 

COBRA Subsidies for Employees and Tax Credits for Employers Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “ARPA”) into law on March 11, 2021. The $1.9 trillion relief package contains several provisions that will impact employers, including a requirement that employers provide “assistance eligible individuals” (defined below) with fully subsidized COBRA continuation coverage premiums for the time period of April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, with such costs to be offset by a refundable credit against the employer’s share of Medicare tax under a newly added Internal Revenue Code section.

Bean, Kinney & Korman:  Helping to Develop Cost-Effective COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policies and Procedures that Meet Virginia's New Regulatory Requirements and OSHA, CDC Guidelines

With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more readily available in the U.S. and a larger percentage of individuals having been vaccinated, businesses are beginning to reopen or expand in-the-office activity in Northern Virginia and across the Commonwealth. Businesses, both large and small, should be giving serious thought to the COVID-19 workplace safety policies and procedures that all are required to have in place to achieve appropriate workplace safety for employees and customers whenever re-opening day arrives.

Construction Services Company Flagged for Unpaid Employee Travel Time

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to focus considerable enforcement attention on when employees must be paid for travel time between home and their office or worksite under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Construction and building trades companies remain at the forefront of the enforcement efforts of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”), as exemplified by the recent consent judgment that ended the lawsuit brought by the DOL against AWP, Inc., a company that provides traffic control “flagging” services for temporary construction work zones.

Avoiding Liability Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes requirements regarding the compensation of employees working in the private sector and in federal, state, and local government positions. To protect employees, the FLSA also prohibits retaliation by employers against employees who complain that their rights have been violated. 

In the past, the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision has been applied to cases where an employee had been terminated or discriminated against after filing a formal complaint with a governmental agency, typically the U.S. Department of Labor, resulting in the commencement of formal proceedings against the employer.