Mar 4, 2021

New DOS Policy Makes National Interest Exceptions Harder to Obtain for Foreign Nationals Subject to European COVID-19 Travel Ban

On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced new and more restrictive eligibility criteria for obtaining a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the COVID-19 travel bans for the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The new policy is effective immediately and expected to make obtaining NIEs more difficult. By way of background, the European COVID-19 travel ban limits and suspends the U.S. entry of certain foreign nationals who have been physically present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry into the United States. Exemptions exist for… Read more


Mar 1, 2021

EBSA Tolls Deadlines For Certain Benefit Plans and Participants

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the “Notice”), which provides guidance on expiration of the COVID-19 extended participant deadlines. The COVID-19 extended participant deadlines require group health plans to disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until sixty (60) days after the end of the COVID-19  National Emergency period with respect to requests for special enrollment, providing notice of a COBRA qualifying event, electing and paying for COBRA and filing claims and appeals. The COVID-19 National Emergency period has not yet ended. However, the extended participant deadlines are subject to ERISA Section 518 and Code Section… Read more


Feb 15, 2021

D.C. Passes Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020

Non-compete agreement

On January 11, 2021, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (the “Act”).  This Act will almost entirely ban non-compete agreements and similar workplace policies in D.C., prohibiting employers from restricting an employee’s employment by a competitor.  The Act defines a “non-compete provision” as a provision of a written agreement between an employer and an employee that prohibits the employee from being employed, either during or after the employee’s employment, by another person or operating the employee’s own business. This Act applies to all D.C. employers and most employees working in… Read more


Feb 12, 2021

The PRO Act Would Change Labor Laws for Non-Union and Unionized Employers

Right to Organize

On February 4, 2021, House and Senate Democrats introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.  A version of the bill was introduced in 2018 and 2019, but the current version extends beyond the union organizing efforts targeted in the previous bill.  Non-union and unionized employers must understand the scope of the proposed changes to labor laws and the potential impact on their operations should the PRO Act become law. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to non-union and union employers.  As discussed in earlier SGR client alerts, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has applied the NLRA… Read more


Feb 4, 2021

DOL Issues Opinion Letter Regarding Staffing Firms and FLSA Exemption for Retail or Service Establishments

FLSA Opinion Letter

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an opinion letter regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (“FLSA”) “retail or service establishment” exemption and whether it applies to staffing firms that recruit, hire, and place employees on temporary assignments.  Notably, the FLSA exempts certain employees of “retail or service establishments” from the overtime pay requirements.  The exemption applies to any employee (1) who works at a retail or service establishment; (2) whose regular rate of pay exceeds one and one-half times the applicable minimum wage; and (3) whose earnings in a representative period are composed of more than… Read more


Feb 2, 2021

OSHA Releases Updated COVID-19 Guidance

OSHA Safework

OSHA set to issue its first enforceable standard regarding COVID-19 and the workplace. The Emergency Standard is scheduled to be published and effective March 15. In advance of the Emergency Standard, OSHA has released up-dated guidance which is expected to be incorporated into the new Standard. OSHA has released updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, in accordance with President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order. The updated guidance, which applies to non-healthcare and non-emergency response workplace settings, recommends that employers implement COVID-19 prevention programs consisting of a hazard assessment, a combination of measures… Read more


Feb 1, 2021

Executive Order on Buy American Focuses on Domestic End Products, Creates New Department

Buy American

On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers (the “Executive Order”), which includes changes to bring transparency to the granting of waivers for “Made in America” requirements and orders a review of domestic preference rules.  The Executive Order: Establishes the Made in America Office within the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) that will implement a centralized review and approval process for waivers to “Made in America” requirements; Requires the development of a public website containing information on waivers that are proposed and… Read more


Jan 26, 2021

Mandatory COVID-19 Test Required for all International Air Travelers to the United States beginning January 26, 2021

According to an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all airline passengers ages two and above who are travelling to the United States from a foreign country must present either (1) a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within the last three days or (2) documentation of recovery from COVID and clearance to travel prior to boarding. The new requirements go into effect on January 26, 2021 and will remain in place through December 31, 2021, unless the order is rescinded or the COVID-19 national emergency ends earlier. Who is affected by the rule? All passengers travelling… Read more


Jan 12, 2021

EEOC Offers New Resources for Employers

EEOC Opinion Letter Rule

In December 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a new process for requesting opinion letters, and also released a new data tool named EEOC Explore. The EEOC’s new process for requesting opinion letters states that requests must be in writing, signed by the person making the request, specifically request an “opinion letter,” and addressed to the Chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE., Washington, DC 20507.  Requests also should be sent to EEOCopinionletters@eeoc.gov.  The request must contain a concise statement of the issues, the names and addresses of the person making the request and of… Read more


Jan 8, 2021

Onshoring and the Biden Administration

Onshoring New Admin

President-Elect Biden campaigned on a platform that included a focus on continued onshoring of the production of “critical products.” The Biden Administration onshoring plan seeks to reduce supply chain risks and national security threats by incentives to rebuild the United States’ manufacturing capacity.  The Biden plan includes both general and medical specific strategies: General Use the full power of the Federal Government to rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity in U.S. critical supply chains Use federal purchasing power to bolster domestic manufacturing capacity for designated critical products. Implement a comprehensive approach to ensure that the U.S. has the critical supplies it needs… Read more