Maryland News & Analysis

  • Despite CDC's new quarantine options, be cautious before changing COVID-19 policies

    On December 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on quarantining: In certain circumstances, individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 by being in "close contact" with a person who tested positive can take steps to reduce the length of the standard 14-day quarantine period. The new recommendations, however, come with significant caveats and stringent prerequisites. Despite the simplified messaging contained in the media announcement, the CDC still maintains the safest course of action is for a close contact to quarantine for 14 days. Also note the new advice has no impact on the agency's previously issued isolation guidance for people who test positive.

  • PA courts clarify employee rights for medical cannabis patients

    Pennsylvania courts recently issued a series of decisions clarifying medical marijuana patients' employee rights—one related to unemployment compensation (UC) and the others focusing on private rights of action (or claims) under the state's medical cannabis statute.

  • Forklift operator walks into a bar: Injury covered by NJ workers' comp law

    The New Jersey Appellate Division recently upheld the trial court's dismissal of a negligence action a leased warehouse worker filed against his employer for injuries sustained while on duty. The appellate court found the worker was a "special employee" of the warehouse, subjecting him to the exclusive remedy of workers' compensation for his injuries, as provided by the New Jersey Workers' Compensation Act (WCA). Accordingly, he was prohibited from bringing the civil suit against the employer for work-related injuries, absent the commission of an intentional wrong.

  • Old Dominion considers legalizing recreational pot

    In a historic first, Virginia is on the verge of becoming the first state in the South to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use. This follows the Commonwealth's recent moves to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize the use of recreational pot, replacing criminal sentences for personal possession of small amounts of marijuana with a $25 fine. Since the developments, the momentum toward full legalization has only increased. Indeed, one of the major proponents of legalization is Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who recently predicted "legalizing marijuana will happen in Virginia, and as it happens, we want to make sure it's regulated properly and we do it the right way."

  • WHD provides travel, training time guidance

    The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently issued two opinion letters addressing when travel time and training time are considered compensable hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Like all opinion letters, the new guidance was based exclusively on the facts of specific cases. Nevertheless, they provide helpful directives on two often-overlooked areas of compensable time.

  • Cupid meets COVID: Harassment threat remains during pandemic

    The days leading up to Valentine's Day are often the time for deliveries of roses and chocolates all over the office. The holiday for sweethearts also can spark talk of office relationships, which sometimes can turn into headaches for HR. Of course, this year is different. But how different, really? With many offices still empty, flirtatious coworkers aren't so obvious, although they may still be out there harassing coworkers remotely. Certainly, socially distanced colleagues can still cross the line and pose sexual harassment problems.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Increase in flexible work arrangements seen generating new pay models. A survey from advisory firm Willis Towers Watson finds that many North American employers expect the uptick in flexible work arrangements to require hybrid compensation models that for some employers include paying employees based on their geographic home base when they relocate. Survey results were released in November, but most respondents expected work from home (WFH) arrangements to continue at least through early 2021. The increase in WFH is prompting employers to rethink their approach to pay and rewards. Half of the employers responding to the survey said the new work arrangements will require a hybrid reward model. As such, 18% reported setting pay levels by first determining the market value of an employees skills and then applying a geographic differential based on where the employee is located. But 60% of employers reported they will continue to pay remote employees the same as in-office employees no matter where they work.

  • Federal Watch

    OSHA issues guidance on frequently cited COVID standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in November issued guidance (www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/covid-citations-guidance. pdf) and an accompanying one-pager (www.osha.gov/ SLTC/covid-19/covid-citations-lessons.pdf) to help employers understand which standards are most frequently cited during coronavirus-related inspections. OSHA based the documents on data from citations issued, many of which were the result of complaints, referrals, and fatalities in industries such as hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and meat/poultry processing plants. The documents provide available resources that address the most frequently cited standards, including respiratory protection, recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses, personal protective equipment, and the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

  • Lessons from Princeton's $1M settlement of pay bias allegations

    Princeton University recently agreed to pay nearly $1 million in cumulative back wages to 106 female professors the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found to be victims of gender-based pay discrimination.

  • 4th Circuit: 'Constructive demotion' probably a viable claim

    Virginia, like most states, recognizes an employee can pursue a wrongful termination claim even after quitting (rather than being fired) if she is "constructively terminated." Constructive discharges can arise if the employer makes the conditions of the employee's job so difficult that a reasonable person in the same position would leave. But what if the employer simply demotes the employee? Can she claim a "constructive demotion"? The law in Virginia isn't settled, but the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers employers in Maryland and Virginia) recently answered "probably" in considering a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).