Federal News & Analysis

  • Biden responds to COVID-19 pandemic with series of orders

    Less than two years ago, the world learned of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Since then, tens of millions of people have become infected around the world, and nearly five million have died, including more than 700,000 Americans. National and international economies continue to struggle to right themselves as people wrestle with the virus' life-changing impact.

  • Activist NLRB set to alter the business model

    On September 29, 2021, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued Memorandum GC-21-08, stating her position that certain college athletes should be considered employees. Regardless of its impact on college athletics and on the challenged role of the NCAA in college sports, liberating Division I athletes was not the real target of the memo. Indeed, few people in the labor trenches have much interest in the status of often-cossetted Division 1 athletes who already enjoy special gyms, training tables, special classes, and generally special treatment during their time as "student-athletes."

  • OSHA sends ETS to White House for approval

    In what is typically the last step in promulgating an emergency temporary standard (ETS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently transmitted a new ETS on employers' COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates for final review and approval to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an arm of the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Although the new standard's actual issuance date remains unknown, we expect it to be in the near future.

  • HHS clarifies role of HIPAA in vaccine mandate debate

    In a recently issued FAQ, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified if and when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's (HIPAA) Privacy Rule has a role in requesting or disclosing information about one's vaccination status.

  • Federal contractors and reasonable accommodations for vaccine mandates

    President Joe Biden's Executive Order (EO) 14042 requires federal contractor employees working on or in connection with a covered federal contract to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. According to EO 14042 and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Guidance, employees who otherwise would be required to be vaccinated may request an exemption either for medical or religious reasons. The task force guidance provides:

  • OFCCP expected to issue guidance on AAP-VI soon

    The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has indicated it will issue guidance to supply and service federal contractors on its Affirmative Action Program—Verification Initiative (AAP-VI), which was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on August 31, 2021. The program is scheduled to become effective within 180 days in early 2022. Federal contractors are hoping the agency will extend the effective date to March or April so companies with calendar plans can complete their AAPs before having to complete the certification.

  • President Biden announces new measures to combat COVID-19

    President Joe Biden announced on September 9, 2021, his six-pronged comprehensive national strategy—Path out of the Pandemic: President Biden's Covid-19 Action Plan (https://bit.ly/3AA7UpR). The six prongs are (1) vaccinating the unvaccinated, (2) further protecting the vaccinated, (3) keeping schools safely open, (4) increasing testing and requiring masking, (5) protecting our economic recovery, and (6) improving care for those with COVID-19.

  • Joint-employer rule: the end of the beginning

    The Biden administration announced the formal rescission of the Trump-era joint employer rule will finally take place on October 5, 2021 (https://bit.ly/2XHklS7). The delay was to comply with various administrative procedures. This completes the first step in the arduous process to revamp the characterization of joint employers in accordance with President Joe Biden's proworker agenda.

  • Biden administration infrastructure bill comes to a vote

    After months of political haggling, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is scheduled for a definitive vote in the House of Representatives on September 27. All current indicators point to this long-awaited effort to address the nation's aging infrastructure being enacted into law. The bill's passage in the Senate by a 69-30 vote was a striking success for President Joe Biden's vision of bipartisanship.

  • NLRB leads Biden's prounion agenda

    From its earliest days in office, the Biden administration has made clear one of its principal goals is to create more and better union jobs. President Joe Biden took office, however, as private-sector union membership is at an all-time low, and changes in the workforce (e.g., remote work, gig work, temp work, tech work) appear to raise the odds against union organization.