Human Resource Executive reports that with non-essential employees returning to workplaces, employers must heed legal pitfalls to avoid litigation. In the article “Navigating the Legal Questions of Workplace Returns,” the publication turned to labor & employment partner Greg Abrams for insight into several legal considerations for employers.
The human resources publication highlights areas that will be affected by the pandemic, such as discrimination and the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988), which deals with notice of layoffs, or wrongful termination.
Regarding the WARN Act, Abrams told Human Resource Executive that “employers should pay particular attention to the fact that the states in which employers operate may have their own versions of the law with unique features, such as different employee thresholds for notice to apply.”
“Additionally, employers doing layoffs in waves or successive periods need to be mindful that WARN liabilities may be triggered in this scenario,” he said.
When it comes to discrimination pitfalls, if employers are going to make distinctions about who is permitted to return to workplaces and who is permitted to telework, or distinguish among employees for other reasons on the basis of creating a safe workplace, they should ensure such decisions have defensible, objectively verifiable bases, Abrams noted
“Regarding wrongful termination, employers should be prepared to demonstrate, if ever challenged, objective reasons for termination wholly unrelated to any complaint the individual raised in connection with his or her pandemic-related concerns or issues,” he added.