Hawaii News & Analysis

  • Next steps for employers after U.S. Supreme Court's LGBTQ ruling

    The U.S. Supreme Court recently resolved the question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination "because of sex," includes bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Court held it does. The 5-4 majority opinion found "it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being a homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual on the basis of sex" and in doing so expanded Title VII's protections to cover LGBTQ employees. Read on to learn what employers should be doing in response to the Court's decision.

  • NLRB allows employer searches of workers' cars and use of communication devices

    Employers may search employees' personal property, including their vehicles, when on company premises, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled. The NLRB also affirmed employers may monitor employee activity on company-issued communication devices, computer systems, and networks. The significant decision continues to show how difficult it is for unions to win work rule cases under the Board's recently adopted Boeing standard.

  • Skyrocketing unemployment increases draw attention to independent contractors

    With more than 500,000 unemployment claims being filed in Nevada in the first half of 2020, a recent WalletHub ranking named Las Vegas (with an estimated 31.6% unemployment rate) as the U.S. city most devastated by COVID-19-related unemployment. Not far behind, Reno's approximately 20.1% jobless rate earned it a spot as the 18th most ravaged U.S. city.

  • What employers should know about screening, testing for COVID-19

    As businesses reopen, many employers have wondered what type of screening they may or should conduct for employees returning to work. In separate guidance documents, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have addressed questions about temperature screening, COVID-19 testing, and related issues concerning confidentiality and recordkeeping. Here's what you should know before implementing a screening or testing program.

  • OSHA releases guidance as nonessential businesses reopen

    On June 18, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance to assist nonessential businesses as they reopen and return employees to the workplace. OSHA is charged with ensuring employers provide safe and healthful workplaces for their employees by setting and enforcing standards and providing employers with training and assistance. The guidance supplements OSHA's previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the White House's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. Specifically, the guidelines provide principles for three phases of reopening.

  • OSHA issues guidance on cloth face coverings, surgical masks, respirators

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, employers have struggled to understand the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) position on cloth face coverings and surgical masks, specifically whether the agency requires or recommends their use and whether they constitute personal protective equipment (PPE). Although the issues may seem trivial, employers want to know what their compliance obligations are. On June 10, the agency issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) and responses about the equipment. Some, but not all, questions were answered.

  • EEOC: You can't require employees to undergo antibody testing

    On June 17, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance concerning the use of COVID-19 antibody testing. Relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) interim guidelines, the EEOC affirmatively stated employers cannot require COVID-19 antibody testing before permitting employees to reenter the workplace.

  • Pandemic-fueled uptick in online activity likely to give rise to accessibility lawsuits

    With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing most of us to either shelter in place or severely limit our outside activities, people everywhere are online more than ever. As a result, website accessibility lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are expected to increase sharply. Title III of the ADA requires places of public accommodation with websites (including retail businesses) to ensure their websites are accessible to everyone, including visually impaired individuals using screen-reading software.

  • Racial tension coupled with COVID anxiety challenging workplaces in new ways

    It has been a long and tragic spring and summer for employers as well as society at large. The coronavirus pandemic sent legions of workers to the unemployment rolls, and others had to learn how to do their jobs remotely—all while dealing with the threat of an all-too-often deadly disease. Then, on May 25, came news of another black person dying in police custody, the latest in a string of such deaths. The viral video of George Floyd handcuffed on the ground with a white officer's knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage that erupted in massive protests across the country and abroad. Inequality and prejudice—not new issues in the workplace—came to the forefront, leaving many employers wondering what actions they should take.

  • Looking ahead after pandemic: Employers likely to see enduring change

    What's the world of work going to look like in the weeks and months ahead? Some workplaces in some parts of the country will be farther along the road to recovery than others, but few will go back to being just like they were before words like coronavirus, pandemic, and COVID-19 became all-consuming thoughts. The months of business shutdowns, remote work, and uncertainty have changed employee attitudes and employer practices—changes that are important for management to understand as employers move forward.