Employment

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?

    Updated FAQs – COVID-19 PPP and EIDL Loans for Churches and Other Nonprofits

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    As of April 24, 2020, the SBA’s Payment Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs were replenished with $310 billion in PPP and $60 billion in EIDL additional funding. The SBA has correspondingly updated its April 6, 2020 FAQs. Organizations with pending applications and new applicants thus may both garner these highly advantageous loans, like the first round approved March 27, 2020, however, this additional funding is expected to run out quickly.

     

    Responding to a Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in the Workplace or Someone Who Has Symptoms

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    A significant number of employees have been working from home, but they may soon return to work as stay-at-home orders are lifted across the country. As employees begin to return to their workplaces, employers want to know what they should do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19. Are employers legally required to do anything? What is best practice in responding to a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the workplace? What if the person only has symptoms but no confirmation? What information can employers disclose to other employees, if any? This article will address five things employers should do when responding to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace.

    FAQs – COVID-19 PPP and EIDL Loans for Churches and Other Nonprofits

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    This guidance supplements our law firm’s April 2, 2020 webinar addressing financial assistance available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), which was enacted March 27, 2020 in response to the worldwide novel coronavirus outbreak. The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program are intended to provide significant financial assistance to nonprofits, small businesses, and others facing economic harm and other risks resulting from pandemic-related conditions.

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