News & Analysis

Why Biden's NLRB changes should cause you to rethink policies, procedures

When President Joe Biden made it a day-one priority to eliminate Donald Trump's high-level appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), he sent a strong signal that employers should brace themselves for the ride ahead when it comes to modifying their workplace policies and procedures under the new administration's more employee-friendly approach.

COVID-19 delays charge processing at Hawaii Civil Rights Commission

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) recently issued its fiscal year (FY) 2020 annual report. Although the number of charges filed declined, the backlog of cases increased. The report suggests delays will continue along with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top 3 employee mobility, restrictive covenant issues to watch for in 2021

As the COVID-19 cloud starts to lift (thanks to several vaccines), we expect employers will slowly begin to reopen their offices, employees will travel more, and the job market may revert back to the low unemployment levels predating the coronavirus' onset in early 2020. The ever-changing landscape of restrictive covenants, including noncompetes and nonsolicitation agreemnents, certainly could affect the looming employment-related activity. Here are our early predictions for the top three related hot-button issues to look out for this year.

Terminating employee with COVID-19 for exposing coworkers

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about how companies operate, most employers still have formal disciplinary policies establishing ground rules for employee conduct and setting out consequences for failure to meet the expectations. If an employee still required to work in person has been exposed to the coronavirus and gotten tested without notifying her employer (and later is confirmed positive), can she be fired for violating a formal disciplinary policy prohibiting actions that pose a danger to others or jeopardize the business's safe and efficient operations?

EEOC announces 2021 schedules for EEO data collection

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced the upcoming opening of four EEO data collections. The agency collects workplace data from public and private employers meeting certain thresholds annually but had previously delayed collection of the 2019 and 2020 data because of the pandemic.

Vaccinated workplace is a happy workplace, right? Not always

Employers have met the approval of two—and potentially more—COVID-19 vaccines by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with optimism that their coronavirus-related, safe-workplace woes are at long last coming to an end. Although there's cause for hope, you should beware of the legal pitfalls of mandating a vaccination program for your workforce.

In quest to reduce bias in hiring, AI may help and hurt

Finding just the right person to fill a job is tricky. Sometimes, employers struggle with a dearth of suitable candidates. Other times, too many applicants make vetting overwhelming. Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) software helps. Or does it? When sifting through applications, can employers trust AI to be objective? Or does human bias find its way into the AI-driven tools employers are increasingly turning to? Even though AI shows promise, employers need to be on guard for kinks that still need to be worked out.

Tackling climate change: What role can HR play?

Climate change—it's an intimidating topic to try to understand. And when a problem is so massive, employers may be tempted to wait for perfect solutions to materialize before they jump into action. But employees, customers, and others are now demanding more from business. So, what is HR's role? That's a question more employers are starting to address.

Cutting-Edge HR

Survey finds remote work will continue even after vaccine. Ninety percent of HR leaders surveyed in December plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time even after the COVID-19 vaccine is widely adopted, according to research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. The survey also found that 65% of respondents reported that their organization will continue to offer employees flexibility on when they work. The respondents also predicted that about 50% of the workforce will want to return to the workplace at least part of the time once a vaccine is made widely available. Sixtytwo percent of the HR leaders surveyed said they are planning to continue all safety measures they have put in place once a vaccine is available, and nearly one-third said they would no longer require masks in the workplace or enforce social distancing in high-traffic areas.

Federal Watch

EEOC guidance addresses COVID-19 vaccinations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has expanded its COVID-19 guidance to include a section providing information to employers and employees about how a COVID-19 vaccination interacts with the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The guidance, released on December 16 and available at 19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws, contains new information on issues pertaining to medical prescreening questions and employer accommodations for those unable to receive a vaccination. Among other things, the guidance clarifies that an approved COVID- 19 vaccine isnt considered a medical examination for purposes of the ADA, but prescreening vaccination questions may implicate the ADAs provision on disabilityrelated inquiries. Therefore, if