States have imposed their own obligations on employers as part of their reopening plans. Employer requirements and best practices depend on the employer's locations of operation and type of business but, at a high level, there are general trends with respect to state-imposed employer obligations, including maintaining safe working conditions and monitoring employee health, undertaking sanitisation efforts, requiring the use of personal protective equipment and promoting telework.
The employment and business decisions made by employers under the spectre of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic are now being tested by opportunistic plaintiffs' lawyers. Employers of all sizes should expect a flood of employment litigation alongside ever-changing conditions, constantly updated guidance and, at times, conflicting state and local guidance. Litigation avoidance will require a team effort and proactive communication – both internally and externally.
Older federal employees just got a boost from the Supreme Court's recent interpretation of the causation standard under the federal sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. To determine the prevailing standard, the court wrestled with the phrase "free from any discrimination based on age", which provides that "[a]ll personnel actions affecting employees or applicants for employment who are at least 40 years of age… shall be made free from any discrimination based on age".