Maine News & Analysis

  • Massachusetts cities, towns reacting to increased COVID-19 numbers

    Since Massachusetts replaced its mask order with a "mask advisory" in July 2021, COVID-19 cases have begun to increase, and the delta variant has become dominant. In recent weeks, cities and towns have begun to institute their own COVID-19 rules and regulations, and employers need to pay careful attention to remain compliant.

  • Rules changing soon for travelers trying to enter United States

    Presidential proclamations banning travel to the United States from certain countries because of COVID-19 will be rescinded in November and replaced with new rules for international travelers.

  • Court upholds arbitrator's reinstatement of employee fired for positive drug test

    A federal district court in Massachusetts recently issued a decision that serves as a good reminder to employers to review their policies related to employee drug or alcohol use both on and off duty and ensure they are consistently applied. While the case involved a unionized employer, even nonunion employers should review the decision because it may help protect them from liability.

  • Employers gird for sweeping new COVID-19 rules on vaccines, testing

    By mandating vaccinations for many employees, President Joe' Biden's six-pronged COVID-19 action plan will have a significant effect on employers across the country. Many key details (including what exemptions may apply to the vaccine mandates) remain unknown until additional federal guidance is provided.

  • OSHA updates COVID-19 workplace safety guidance

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace because of the high incidence of the delta variant infections occurring throughout the country. The agency's updated guidance is advisory in nature and informational in content and is "intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm." OSHA's updated guidance is primarily aimed at non-healthcare employees, whose workplaces are subject to its mandatory COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. The updated guidance also incorporates additional safety measures for higher risk workplaces.

  • Workplace harassment? But they don't work for us!

    Most employers are equipped to respond to employee allegations of harassment by coworkers or managers. There are added levels of difficulty, however, when they complain about harassment by a customer, contractor, or other visitor to the business. A federal court of appeals recently ruled a Harrah's Casino employee can go to trial on her claims that (1) she was sexually harassed by a customer and (2) the employer didn't take sufficient steps to address her concerns.

  • Some ideas for performance evaluations as the pandemic continues

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt many facets of employment, including how managers and employees communicate about performance. Like last year, employers are struggling to decide how to assess employee performance when so much of the workforce is nowhere near back to normal. The "annual review" process was under attack in many circles before the pandemic struck, but its shortcomings are now even more evident. What should employers do? Here are a few ideas.

  • Staffing up during the pandemic: a few tips

    Many employers were optimistic earlier in the year when the COVID-19 vaccination program ramped up in a big way and case counts seemed to be on the decline. Restrictions were eased, and light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel.

  • U.S. firm's health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated draws interest in Canada, too

    Employers have been trying to encourage employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some paid bonuses. Others provided gift cards. What happens when rewards aren't enough? A U.S. employer recently announced a different approach: All unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's healthcare plan will have to pay a $200 monthly surcharge starting on November 1, 2021. In support for the surcharge, the employer noted all of its employees who were hospitalized with the virus weren't fully vaccinated. Their average hospital stay costs the company $50,000 per person.

  • Q - A: What to do if an employee is unable to return from FMLA leave

    Q If an employee is unable to return to work after Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and isn't protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), how much time should we allow before we administratively fire her?