Alabama News & Analysis

  • Guide to reopening businesses after the pandemic

    As shelter-at-home (SAH) orders for many states during the COVID-19 outbreak have begun expiring, companies across the country are starting to think about how and under what circumstances they will reopen. Although it's early in the process, several themes have emerged.

  • New rule extends time for COBRA elections, premium payments

    On Monday, May 4, the IRS and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) jointly published a rule in the Federal Register significantly extending the time in which employees may elect COBRA health insurance continuation coverage and begin paying their premiums in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The full text of the rule may be accessed at: www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/04/2020-09399/extension-of-certain-timeframes-for-employee-benefit-plans-participants-and-beneficiaries-affected. The agencies also published new model COBRA notices.

  • When you can't meet contract obligations: COVID-19 and force majeure clauses

    Many businesses throughout the Southeast and the country are struggling with the constant changes brought about by COVID-19. One particular area of concern is whether a business can cancel a contract (whether employment or otherwise) it feels it cannot perform because of the hurdles presented by the pandemic and resulting governmental edicts. Or, the opposite, what to do if the other party wants to terminate or suspend the contract. In many cases, the contract provision on which to focus is the one setting forth the parties' rights if a "force majeure" event occurs.

  • No FMLA retaliation because employee failed to meet monthly deadlines

    A worker who was fired for failing to timely complete required monthly reports cannot continue with her Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. A federal court in Louisiana found she didn't have any evidence that one of the reasons for her termination was untrue or that she suffered any prejudice from working during her FMLA leave.

  • Sleeping with the 'enemy': Employers urge jobless claims amid COVID-19 layoffs

    Traditionally, employers aren't in the business of giving unemployment advice to their (former) employees. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many employers are going to great lengths to find ways to assist their employees, and in some cases, that includes recommending they apply for unemployment. We have received numerous questions from employers regarding applications for unemployment and wanted to update you regarding the changes made by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) and Governor Tate Reeves.

  • Burden of proof eased for federal employees claiming age discrimination

    In a case involving the Veterans Medical Center in Bay Pines, Florida, an 8-1 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a decision making it easier for federal employees to prove age discrimination. The high court ruled the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which differs from the private-sector provision, should be weighed under a different standard.

  • 5th Circuit changes course on whether day rate satisfies test for FLSA exemptions

    To qualify as exempt from receiving overtime pay under the administrative, executive, professional, or highly compensated employee exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee must be paid on a "salary basis" at a rate of not less than $455 per week. Federal regulations provide an employee is paid on a salary basis if (1) he receives a predetermined amount in each pay period, on a weekly or less frequent basis, and (2) the salary is paid "without regard to the number of days or hours worked."

  • 11th Circuit clarifies standard for retaliatory hostile work environment claims

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 11th Circuit has issued a decision clarifying the standard for determining when someone can pursue a claim for a retaliatory hostile work environment. The ruling has important implications for employers facing or anticipating retaliation claims alleging employees were harassed for engaging in protected activity under the civil rights laws.

  • Despite COVID-19 layoffs, some employers find ways to ease the blow

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employers to shed workers in unprecedented numbers. When businesses closed or drastically cut services, millions of workers lost paychecks. But some employers have taken steps to protect workers still on the job and provide relief for others on reduced schedules or out of work altogether.

  • 5 tips for maximizing remote workers productivity

    The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses to offer, if not require, work-from-home options for employees. With people working remotely, employers face many challenges with maintaining the same level of productivity as before the pandemic. Here are five guidelines to help ensure your employees are maximizing their time outside of the office and inside their homes.