Tag Archives: Employment Law

OSHA’s Latest Guidelines on COVID-19

At the end of January OSHA issued another set of Guidelines for dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace. These Guidelines are not legal requirements. However, I suspect that if OSHA investigates and sees that a business is not following these Guidelines a determination that the business has violated OSHA’s General Duty clause, which states that employers have a general duty to keep the workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm”, is likely.

Among other things the Guidelines state:

  1. Employees who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 must still follow the protective measures, including wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing.
  2. In adopting a workplace safety plan employers should engage employees to ensure their thoughts and concerns are considered. It is an interactive process.
  3. Employers should consider protections for workers at a higher risk. But be careful. This does not mean you automatically send all older employees, or employees with known underlying health issues, home. Doing so could lead to claims of age and/or disability discrimination. Instead, make a decision that applies to all high risk employees, not just a certain group or groups.
  4. Follow the CDC isolation guidelines for employees who have COVID-19 or have or may have been exposed to it.

The bottom line is employers should continue to be proactive, responsive and flexible.

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Avoid A Halloween Nightmare- Investigate That Complaint!

Today is Halloween.  Celebrate if you choose, but don’t let today, or another day, turn into a nightmare at work by failing to investigate a complaint of harassment, discrimination, or other alleged misconduct.

Follow these steps when you receive a complaint at work:

  1. Investigate everything.  No matter how minor or major the complaint may seem, investigate it.
  2. Investigate promptly.  Same day is ideal. If that is not possible, begin the investigation as soon thereafter as possible.
  3. Investigate thoroughly. Leave no stone unturned.  Interview all witnesses.  Review all documents (emails and text messages are often where key information will be found), photographs, videos and any other tangible items.
  4. Use the who, what, when , why, how method of questioning to obtain the information you need. Start broadly and then focus on the specific.
  5. Make sure the investigator is unbiased and knowledgeable about the process.  HR or Risk Management/Compliance are typically an excellent choice to handle the investigation.  If that is not an option consider retaining outside counsel to do so.
  6. After the investigation is complete share the conclusions/findings  with the complainant and take appropriate corrective action promptly.

If you follow these steps you can avoid turning a work complaint into a nightmare, on Halloween or any other day.

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