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On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released its much-anticipated COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are either vaccinated by January 4, 2022, or submit to weekly testing.  According to OSHA, employees who are unvaccinated face a “grave danger” from COVID-19, including the more contagious Delta variant.  The ETS notes that COVID-19 is highly transmissible—particularly in workplaces where multiple people interact throughout the day often for extended periods of time—and exposure to COVID-19 can result in death or illness, with some individuals experiencing long-term health complications.  OSHA has determined that vaccination is the most effective way to protect these employees.
Continue Reading OSHA Publishes Vaccine Requirements for Employers with 100 or More Employees

Blind person using computer with braille computer display and a computer keyboard. Blindness aid, visual impairment, independent life concept.

After more than two years of deliberation, the Eleventh Circuit issued its decision in Gil v. Winn-Dixie on April 7, 2021.  Writing for the majority, Judge Elizabeth Branch reversed a trial court decision and found that Winn-Dixie’s website, which is incompatible with screen reading software used by the plaintiff, who is blind, did not violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  In doing so, the court’s opinion in this closely-watched case advances the law in several frequently litigated issues in ADA Title III website accessibility disputes.

The Appellate Court’s Opinion

The Eleventh Circuit’s decision includes two key takeaways: (1) that websites are not “places of public accommodation” under the ADA; and (2) a rejection of the “nexus” standard, notably adopted by the Ninth Circuit.  In what it described as a strict textual reading of the ADA, the majority concluded that the retailer’s website was not a “place of public accommodation” within the meaning of the ADA.  Judge Branch emphasized that the statute includes an “expansive list” of examples of public accommodations—all of which are physical locations, not websites.  The court further reasoned that the website’s functionality did not interfere with the plaintiff’s right to “full and equal enjoyment” of a place of public accommodation, because he had visited its physical locations on many occasions.

The majority also rejected the plaintiff’s theory that the grocery store violated the ADA because its website was a “nexus” to its physical locations, and thus must be accessible to people with disabilities.  Among other courts, the Ninth Circuit adopted the “nexus” theory in its widely-publicized 2019 opinion in  Robles v. Domino’s.

The Eleventh Circuit also rejected the plaintiff’s alternative theory of liability under the ADA.  Gil argued that the website’s inaccessibility created an “intangible barrier” to the goods and services at the brick-and-mortar store.  The court rejected this claim, focusing on the fact that the website had “limited use” and was not the sole access point to the store.  Language in the majority opinion supports a relatively narrow interpretation of the statutory “auxiliary service” issue that is frequently litigated in ADA Title III cases.  See 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(i)-(ii).

Penning a dissent as long as the majority’s opinion, Judge Jill Pryor explained, “[t]he ADA is a sweeping piece of legislation; it is hardly surprising that its terms prohibiting discrimination are broad and inclusive.”  By narrowing the applicability of the ADA, Judge Pryor worried about the unintended consequences.  “As I read it, the majority opinion gives stores and restaurants license to provide websites and apps that are inaccessible to visually-impaired customers so long as those customers can access an inferior version of these public accommodations’ offerings.”
Continue Reading Website Wars: Eleventh Circuit Rules in a Split Decision That Websites are Not Public Accommodations for Purposes of the Americans With Disabilities Act

California Governor Newsom signed into law a new bill, SB 95, that provides for up to 80 new hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to covered employees. The law applies to all businesses with more than 25 employees, and goes into effect on March 29 through September 30, 2021. SB 95 retroactively applies

The New York State legislature recently passed a bill (S2588A/A3354B), signed into law by Governor Cuomo on March 12, 2021, which amends the New York Labor Law and Civil Service Law to grant private and public employees paid leave time for the COVID-19 vaccination. The law is effective March 12, 2021 and will

On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) updated its guidance regarding how long an individual must quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. While the CDC continues to endorse a quarantine period of 14 days after last exposure, it has now provided two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on the availability of COVID-19 testing, individuals without symptoms can shorten their quarantine period to 10 days after exposure or to 7 days after receiving a negative test result. Individuals can take either the PCR or antigen test up to 48 hours before the seventh day of the last exposure. This means that individuals can take a PCR or antigen test on the fifth day after exposure but they must quarantine for at least 7 days regardless of when they receive the negative test result. If they do not receive their test result within the 7 day period, they cannot discontinue quarantine until the receipt of a negative test result. After discontinuing quarantine, individuals should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 until 14 days have passed since their last exposure. If symptoms are present before the end of the 14 day period, individuals must immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider. Individuals who test positive on the seventh day but have no symptoms must self-isolate for an additional 10 days after the last test. Individuals who develop symptoms after testing positive must self-isolate until all of the following conditions have been met: (1) at least 10 days have passed since the individual’s symptoms first appeared, (2) the individual has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and (3) there has been improvement in the individual’s other symptoms.

Continue Reading CDC Updates Its Guidance for Necessary Quarantine Period

Doctor's hands in protection gloves holds Testing Kit for the coronavirus testThe EEOC today updated its online guidance regarding COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), stating that employers may now test their employees for the presence of the COVID-19 virus before entering the workplace. The EEOC had previously stated that employers could monitor their employees’ body temperatures consistent with the ADA’s direct threat

On March 15, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced his intention to sign an executive order requiring restaurants and bars to limit services to take out and delivery orders.  Similar operational limits are also in place in other jurisdictions around the country, with several more sure to come.  Retailers such as Apple, Nike,

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released its much-anticipated final rule on the often-litigated “joint employer” issue under the Fair Labor Standards Act and its statutory requirements relating to minimum wage and overtime obligations. This final rule represents the first significant revisions to DOL’s regulations on this subject in more than 50 years. As expected,

On March 28, 2019, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) offered hope to retailers and others in the employer community seeking clarity regarding compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime calculation rules, by issuing a notice of a final rule to update the principles applicable for calculating the “regular rate.” It has been more than