Thank you to our clients and friends who have watched ”Breaking Through the Noise: Labor & Employment Issues Post-Pandemic” so far! We hope you enjoyed it and were provided with timely, relevant and valuable insight.

If you have not tuned in yet, the program is available on demand to watch at your leisure. CLICK HERE TO WATCH! Below are some top takeaways from each segment:

“What Keeps You Up At Night?”

Exclusive interviews with different businesses across Florida highlighted lessons learned through the pandemic.

  • Johnny Tellechea, Jr., HR Manager, Florida Crystals Corporation (Interviewed by Rene Ruiz)
    • Top management needs to work together to make plans and continuously communicate with employees
    • Many of the safety and sanitation protocols put into place should become the norm post-pandemic
  • Ashwin Krishnan, VP and General Counsel, Miami Marlins (Interviewed by Ingrid Ponce)
    • Follow all current guidance and regulations for employees and customers to come back to a safe environment
    • Try to stay connected to and help the community, especially during challenging times
  • Qualenta Kivett, EVP and Chief People and Talent Officer, Tampa General Hospital (Interviewed by Janet McEnery)
    • HR is a strategic partner – open communication and a direct line to leadership fosters an environment of innovation
    • We can learn a lot by collaborating and partnering with other organizations – regardless of size and industry
  • Mia Martin, Assistant General Counsel and Director of HR, Braman Management Corporation (Interviewed by Lisa Berg)
    • Stay on top of current guidance from the CDC, OSHA and other health authorities to make informed decisions and implement appropriate COVID-19 workplace policies quickly and effectively
    • Stay calm, educate yourself as much as possible, be adaptable, and have excellent outside counsel to assist
  • Annie Borges, Director of HR, Fisher Island Club (Interviewed by Bob Turk)
    • HR professionals need to wear many hats, be adaptable and think outside the box
    • Learn to appreciate the blessings in life and live more in the moment
  • Paula Allen, Vice President of HR, FirstService Residential (Interviewed by Andy Rodman)
    • Going forward, many HR functions such as interviewing, new hire orientation, onboarding, training, and development programs can be done virtually or using a hybrid model
    • A focus on company culture, values, people and safety is paramount to navigating whatever challenges may arise

Meet EEOC Commissioner Sonderling (Interviewed by Bob Turk & Ingrid Ponce)

We will be sharing Keith Sonderling’s full 40-minute interview in an upcoming webinar.  In our shortened program, Commissioner Sonderling focused on the following points:

  • Structure of the EEOC: 5-member, bi-partisan commission. Republicans currently have a voting majority (can change July 2022)
  • Process:
    • Cases that go to commission for automatic vote:
      • Systemic discrimination allegation or pattern of discrimination
      • Expected to involve a major expenditure of agency resources
    • Cases reviewed for commissioners to decide if vote is needed:
      • Not settled
      • Likely to generate public controversy
      • Could implicate a policy
    • EEOC’s free mediation program: Employers encouraged to participate to obtain relief more quickly than through litigation
    • January final rule regarding conciliation: detailed what information EEOC has to provide to employers. A highly contested rule that should be closely watched as Congress may vote to undo the rule
    • COVID-19 vaccine guidance: not considered a medical examination and requiring an employee to show proof of vaccination is not an ADA disability-related inquiry
    • Recent comprehensive and updated guidance:
      • Employers’ ADA obligations for:
        • People taking prescription opioids and those receiving treatment for opioid addiction
        • Veteran discrimination
      • Religious discrimination in the workplace

COVID-19 Long-Hauler Issues (Presented by Lisa Berg)

  • COVID-19 long haulers continue to feel symptoms of COVID-19 long after the days or weeks that represent a typical course of the disease (commonly referred to as Long COVID).  If employees who suffer from Long COVID come to Human Resources seeking leave or accommodations, evaluate whether they are eligible for FMLA leave and/or reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
  • Many situations may not be straightforward and will require careful consideration of various factors under both statutes.
  • Don’t forget to send required notices under the FMLA (if applicable) and document the interactive process under the ADA.

Employment Litigation Lifecycle Trends (Presented by Andy Rodman, Eric Gabrielle & Eric Roth)

Prevailing trends in the employment lifecycle are:

  • Recruitment & Hiring: Embracing the expansion of diversity & inclusion efforts, including “Banning the Box”
  • Onboarding: Protecting employer intellectual property
  • Departure: Enforcing restrictive covenant agreements

Benefits: Cybersecurity/Missing Participants (Presented by Sharon Quinn Dixon & Andy McLaughlin)

The Department of Labor’s new guidance on cybersecurity for employee benefit plans focuses on:

  1. Employers’ obligation to reduce the risk of cybersecurity attacks on their plans
  2. Including provisions in service provider contracts aimed at protecting data
  3. Employers’ need to monitor service providers on a regular basis
  4. Educating plan participant

The Department of Labor’s new guidance on missing participants focuses on:

  1. Adequate census data
  2. Procedures for dealing with missing participants
  3. An effective communication campaign to try to track down people
  4. Engaging in a search for missing participants

Equity & Social Justice Initiatives (presented by Jenea Reed & Gene Stearns)

  • Companies can facilitate conversations in the workplace through intentionality, creating safe spaces and acknowledging discomfort
  • Diversity and inclusion starts at the top – leadership needs to be willing to listen when people want to be heard
  • Know your organization and start where you are
  • Develop a strategy to support philanthropic and community initiatives regarding social justice
  • Make sure everyone understands that this is collective work. Everyone is learning and growing together

Hurricane Season Employer Tips (Presented by Glenn Rissman)

It is important for employers to make a pre-storm plan and understand the legal obligations during a hurricane, including:

  1. Essential equipment and supplies
  2. Communications with employees, clients, customers and vendors
  3. Payroll
  4. Safety after the storm
  5. Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act

“20 for 30s” Roundtable Discussion (Presented by Paul Crucet, Giselle Gutierrez, Melanie Leitman, Tom Raine and Stephanie Turk)

The younger generation predicts employers should start thinking about the following trends:

  • Continuation of remote, non-evidentiary hearings post-pandemic
  • “Start-up” culture and unique benefits, i.e. collaboration, open workspaces, unlimited PTO, remote work, etc.
  • Flexible schedules, including the 4-day workweek
  • Prioritizing diversity and wellness, including mental health
  • Cautioning employers not to use cryptocurrencies without consulting counsel
  • Increased automation and the use of robots, and how that may influence unionization
  • Social media considerations regarding political, social justice issues and discrimination in hiring
  • Medical and recreational marijuana policies

Because the program time was limited, we were not able to go into detail on every topic.  We will be following up with a series of webinars on the most important topics. Stay tuned!