Wyatt Employment Law Report

Employer Tax Credits For Emergency COVID-19 Leave Available Immediately

By Meredith L. Eason

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the federal government will immediately reimburse small and midsized businesses and nonprofit organizations for the costs they incur providing emergency sick leave or emergency FMLA leave to their employees.   Employers can immediately take a dollar for dollar credit against their payroll taxes to reimburse themselves for the cost of paying for this leave.  If the amount an employer pays out under the program exceeds its payroll tax obligation, employers can immediately file for a refund.  The refunds will be expedited and processed within two weeks.  The refund forms should be available over the next few days.  The leave must be provided between April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 to qualify.  Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals who become ill or need to take time away from work to care for a family member.  More information is available here.

EEOC Webinar to Address COVID-19’s Impact on the Agency’s Enforcement of Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr.

The EEOC recently announced that on the afternoon of March 27, 2020, it will be posting on its website a prerecorded webinar regarding the impact of COVID-19 on various federal non-discrimination laws.  Specifically, the webinar will address questions submitted in advance to the EEOC on how employers should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, and GINA.  Employers have up and until 9:00 p.m. eastern time TODAY to submit questions for consideration to be addressed during the webinar.  Questions can be submitted by email to COVID19.Questions@eeoc.gov.

For additional information, please click on the following link: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-23-20.cfm

Department of Labor Issues First Guidance Documents Regarding FFCRA

By Tyson Gorman

The Department of Labor has issued the first set of what will likely be many guidance documents on the recently-enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  Three documents have been released by the DOL.  They are available at the following links:


By Meredith Eason, Tyson Gorman, Mitzi Wyrick and Christopher Hanewald

The following Frequently Asked Questions seek to provide guidance to our clients on some of the questions we have received regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact their employees and businesses.  These responses attempt to provide general policy guidance to employers; however, individual facts and circumstances may require further analysis.

At this time, a number of states and municipalities have already taken steps to close or restrict many businesses’ operations that are not deemed ‘essential.’ While we anticipate that the list of government issued restrictions will continue to grow every day, business owners with operations that are deemed essential will need to understand how to maintain business functions while complying with the evolving legislative requirements. Continue reading

Questions or Concerns About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act? The DOL Wants to Hear Them!

By Mitzi Wyrick

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is hosting a national online dialogue to provide employers and employees with an opportunity to offer their perspectives as the DOL develops compliance assistance materials and outreach strategies related to the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The ideas and comments gathered from this dialogue will assist the DOL in developing compliance assistance guidance, resources, and tools, as well as outreach approaches, to help employers and employees in understanding their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA. The deadline for input is March 29, 2020. Anyone who is interested can participate online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com from March 23 through March 29, 2020 or may join a Twitter chat hosted by @ePolicyWorks on March 25, 2020 at 2 p.m. using the hashtag #EPWChat.

Tennessee Joins Other States in Effort to Increase Access to Unemployment Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19

By Meredith Eason

On March 19, 2020, Governor Lee signed an Executive Order making it easier for workers affected by COVID-19 to get unemployment benefits in Tennessee.  The Executive Order follows the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this month.  Specifically, the Order does the following:

1) temporarily suspends the one-week waiting period for benefits;

2) temporarily suspends the requirement that benefit recipients make reasonable efforts to secure work as a condition to receiving benefits; and

3) allows benefits to be granted to any employee who is not working as a result of a quarantine directed by a medical professional or health authority, provided the employee intends to return to work and would otherwise be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

Employers who are forced to reduce hours or close due to COVID-19 can expedite the process by providing the Tennessee Unemployment Commission with a Mass Layoff List or Employer-Filed Mass Claim.  This will help employees receive benefits more quickly and will allow employers to avoid the process of individually responding to each claim.  More details are available here.

Extension of Filing Deadlines by Supreme Court of Kentucky

By Victoria Boland Fuller and Marianna Michael 

On March 18, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky issued an Order in response to Governor Beshear’s declaration of a State of Emergency earlier this month. This most recent Order follows the Order issued on March 13, 2020, which cancelled in-person appearances from March 16, 2020 to April 10, 2020.  In order to better protect the health and safety of  court employees, elected officials, and the public, the Chief Justice created the following time extension for filings: for cases before the Supreme Court or the Kentucky Court of Appeals that originally had filing deadlines between March 16, 2020, and April 10, 2020, the applicable deadline has been extended thirty days.  Each of the Clerks of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are working with a reduced staff, but are still able to receive filings through the mail. Further, the respective Clerks of these Courts may arrange with the parties to receive filings electronically and to distribute service in accordance with the applicable rules.

This Order has two important qualifications that should be noted. First, per its terms, the Order applies only to filings with the Supreme Court of Kentucky or the Kentucky Court of Appeals—deadlines for filings at the Circuit and District Court levels appear to be unchanged. Additionally, the Order only affects filings with due dates between March 16, 2020, and April 10, 2020. Filings that were required before March 16 and after April 10 are not impacted by the current Order.