West Virginia News & Analysis

  • Potential costs of unsafe workplace in era of COVID-19

    As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continue to update and modify their recommendations for best practices and their mandates for safe workplaces related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may feel like a daunting task to keep up not only with the changes but to actually enforce the new safety procedures in the workplace. Failure to follow the rules, however, could lead to both a sick workforce and some expensive consequences for employers. In addition to state and federal enforcement of workplace safety requirements, employers may also open themselves up to private "enforcement" through workers' compensation actions and wrongful death and personal injury claims filed by individual employees or their survivors. At this point, the ball is already rolling for employment litigation related to COVID-19 and allegedly unsafe workplaces, and we can safely assume it will only pick up speed.

  • Preventing age discrimination while protecting workers from COVID-19

    Employers: During a pandemic that appears to hit patients 65 years and older the hardest, are you taking the appropriate steps to ensure you don't discriminate against your older employees while also protecting them from potential workplace harassment?

  • Reporting coworker's adultery isn't protected activity, NC court rules

    The North Carolina Court of Appeals was recently faced with the question of whether an employee who reports a coworker's private sexual activity is protected from adverse action by her employer under state public policy. In upholding the employee's termination, the appeals court held that reporting adultery by a coworker isn't protected activity, and employers may take adverse action against employees on that basis. Because wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claims are often thought of as catchall remedies for employees, you should consider such claims when making termination decisions.

  • Reviewing OSHA's guidance for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Over the last few months, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided guidance addressing workplace safety concerns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April alone, OSHA released pandemic-related enforcement guidance to employers and agency officials seven different times. It has also issued national news releases reminding employees and employers of the whistleblower protections afforded under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). In addition, it has issued industry-specific alerts to keep workers safe, including alerts concerning construction workers, manufacturing workers, package delivery workers, and retail workers. Finally, it has published a new poster focused on reducing workplace exposure to COVID-19. This article provides a summary of OSHA's recent guidance concerning COVID-19 in the workplace.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    How to help employees working remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic sending many people home to work, employees are facing new challenges. What can managers do to help? A blog post from The Workforce Institute at Kronos suggests three ways to help workers adjust. Set clear expectations: Make sure everyone is on the same page, Workforce Institute board member Chris Mullen writes in the post. Have an open dialog about what's expected, and be empathetic to employees during the adjustment. Keep communication channels open: There is no such thing as overcommunicating at this time, Mullen says. Communication will help avoid misunderstandings, build trust, and increase effectiveness. Check in with employees: Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation. Mullen suggests setting up a 30-minute weekly meeting with each team member to understand the employee's needs.

  • Federal Watch

    New DOL rule requires more union financial reporting. The U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) announced a final rule in March requiring unions to file annual financial reports concerning their trusts. The rule requires all labor organizations with total annual receipts of $250,000 or more to file a Form T-1, under certain circumstances, for each trust of the type defined by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Such labor organizations trigger the Form T-1 reporting requirements if, during the reporting period, theyeither alone or in combination with other labor organizationsselect or appoint the majority of the members of the trusts governing board or contribute more than 50% of the trusts receipts. Any contributions in accord with a collective bargaining agreement are considered the labor organizations contributions. The rule allows a union to voluntarily file the Form T-1 on behalf of one or more other unions if each of the unions otherwise would be obligated to individually file for the same trust.

  • HR Technology

    How well is your remote work plan working? When millions of workers took up working from home because of the coronavirus, they likely encountered at least a few snags, but software can smooth the way. A March 30 blog post from HR Tech Central looks at software that can make remote work more effective. What solutions are available? The post lists 11 different kinds of software to investigate to ease the transition from in-office to at-home work: collaborative whiteboard software, remote support software, audio conferencing software, video conferencing software, webinar software, screensharing software, remote desktop software, business instant messaging software, cloud content collaboration software, project management software, and task management software.

  • Q - A: Multiple compaint reporting avenues can help avoid liability

    Q Can an employee bypass her supervisor and go straight to HR just because she has been written up previously?

  • Steps to take when responding to employee's COVID-19 diagnosis

    As the number of individuals being tested and diagnosed with COVID-19 continues to increase, the likelihood an employee will report a confirmed diagnosis also increases. Employers should take steps now to understand COVID-19 so they can respond appropriately to an employee's diagnosis.

  • CARES Act expands unemployment assistance during pandemic

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)—a sweeping, third-wave relief package assembled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—became law on March 27. Read on to learn how the Act affects jobless benefits for people affected by the public health crisis.