Wyatt Employment Law Report


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.

New Form I-9 Released

By Glen Krebs

On Jan. 31, 2020, USCIS published the Form I-9 Federal Register notice announcing a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, that the Office of Management and Budget approved on Oct. 21, 2019. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31, 2020.

The notice provides employers additional time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes. Employers may continue using the prior version of the form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) until April 30, 2020. After that date, they can only use the new form with the 10/21/2019 version date. The version date is located in the lower left corner of the form.
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By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr. and Marianna Michael 

It is now common knowledge that the World Health Organization (“WHO”) has classified COVID-19 as an international pandemic. This week, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued guidance to employers on implementation strategies to utilize in navigating the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace, specifically how it impacts the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Rehabilitation Act.  While the EEOC continues to enforce the rules and requirements contained under both Acts, the agency also recognizes that its authority “do[es] not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.”
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Highlights from Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201 (Act)

By Mike Fine

Following the passage of H.R. 6201 by the Senate on March 18, 2020, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, President Trump signed the Act into law shortly thereafter. The Act is the first relief measure passed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States; however, it is expected that more aid will be forthcoming.

The Act provides for paid sick leave, free COVID-19 testing, food assistance, unemployment benefits, and implements certain requirements of employers with less than 500 employees. Additionally, the Act makes available a number of tax credits to employers and self-employed individuals to help cover the costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Below is a summary of the relevant provisions of the Act:
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