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EEOC Issues COVID-Related Employment Guidance

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued extensive COVID-related Q&A employment guidance, including initial employee screening, questions that may and may not be asked of employees about their health and medical condition, confidentiality of medical information, remote work in relation to disability considerations, and potential litigation issues. 

Re-Opening: Yet, Not Yet, Somewhere In-Between?

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Gathering in person for nonprofit programs, religious worship, and work: how does a nonprofit engage in these activities mid-pandemic? With masks becoming ubiquitous, people yearning to connect, and Zoom tolerance tiring, nonprofit leaders are taking a variety of approaches for operating amidst coronavirus-related restrictions. In our law practice, we are seeing precautions for religious worship, school activities, and other social service programming.

Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Expire without Congressional Intervention

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This week the additional $600 of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ("FPUC") authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES") and paid to millions out of work due to the coronavirus is set to expire. Unless Congress reaches a consensus to continue FPUC, unemployment benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels after July 31.

COVID-19 at Work: Symptoms, Contact, Disclosures, What Else?

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What happens when an employee reports COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with another person who has tested positive for COVID-19? Upon receipt of such information, employers must be mindful of their dual obligations: (1) to protect the confidentiality of the employee’s sensitive medical information, and (2) to take reasonable measures to protect all employees’ safety and care, including making careful disclosures. While these obligations may exist in some tension, employers can properly navigate both duties. Here’s how.

Too Much of a Stretch? Bostock's Expansive Ruling on Title VII Sex Discrimination

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On June 15, 2020—the 5th anniversary of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing a constitutionally-protected right of same-sex marriage[1] — the U.S. Supreme Court expanded sex-based discrimination to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity for purposes of employment discrimination protection. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Court determined that when an employer fires an employee because of gender identity or sexual orientation, the employer is effectively firing the person for traits and qualities that would not have been an issue if they were members of the opposite sex. Thus, the Court held in a 6-3 ruling, discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is discrimination “because of sex” and therefore presents a valid employment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This article summarizes the Court's majority and dissenting opinions, provides several observations, and then discusses Bostock's application such as to religious employers and other nonprofit organizations.

COVID-19 Workplaces: Changes for Policies, Protocols, and Employee Handbooks

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Are your employees coming back to in-person work yet? As states shift forward into new phases that allow nonprofit and other employees to come back to worksites, employers face a plethora of warranted policy changes. High on the list should be to develop and implement a Workplace Health and Cleanliness Operations Policy. In addition, employers may address continued remote work options, such as through a new or updated Remote Work Policy. These important changes should be reflected in modified employee handbooks, at least in summary versions, which should also include policies covering new COVID-19-related Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave.

Relaxed Requirements: Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020

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Nonprofits and businesses with forgivable loans through the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can rest a little easier, thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law significant modifications to the CARES Act, shortly after the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval. These modifications provide extensions and other relief to current and prospective PPP loan recipients, including timing and operational aspects.

    Coming Back to Work: The Careful COVID-19 "New Normal"

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    Time to re-open?  Business owners, houses of worship, and other nonprofit leaders are waking up daily to new announcements about gradual re-openings in this next coronavirus phase of trial-and-error efforts.  Given significant concerns to be balanced as well as evolving medical implications of COVID-19, how should employers resume in-person work practices?

    Updated SBA "Safe Harbor": Presumed "Economic Uncertainty" for PPP Forgivable Loans

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    Good news! The Small Business Administration released updated guidance today clarifying "economic uncertainty" certifications made by PPP borrowers. Under Q&A #46 the requisite good-faith certification of economic uncertainty will be conclusively presumed for loans of less than $2 million. As set forth in the SBA’s answer, this “safe harbor” allowance takes an essentially prudential and easily applicable approach.

    Re-Openings, Restrictions, and Legal Rights: Moving Through and Beyond COVID-19

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    In Illinois, April 30, 2020 marks Day 40 of Governor Pritzker’s stay-home order, confining all residents and shutting down all operations, except for “essential activities.” Is the Order legal? Do such government mandates violate First Amendment freedoms, as some states courts have ruled? How can nonprofit leaders plan well, safely, and legally for moving through and beyond COVID-19?

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