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Legal & Legislative Updates

    2021 CVSHRM LEGAL & LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE TO BE HOSTED IN PERSON OCTOBER 2021

    April 2021 L&L Updates

    American Rescue Plan (ARP) Provides temporary premium assistance for COBRA

    Individuals may be eligible for premium assistance if they are eligible for and elect COBRA continuation coverage because of their own or a family member’s reduction in hours or an involuntary termination from employment. This premium assistance is available for periods of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. This premium assistance is generally available for continuation coverage under the Federal COBRA provisions, as well as for group health insurance coverage under comparable state continuation coverage (“mini-COBRA”) laws.

    Find more information by Clicking HERE

     

    Maryland House Lawmakers Advance Narrower Essential Worker Protection Legislation

    A heavily amended version of House Bill 581, an emergency bill to protect essential workers during public health emergencies was introduced to the Senate on April 5, 2021. The amended measure curtails who counts as an essential worker, provides for paid sick leave if federal or state funding is made available to employers and no longer includes hazard pay. With time counting down in the legislative session, the bill faces a tight timeline for final passage.

     

    Bill HB 289: Peace Orders - Workplace Violence Bill moving forward in the legislative process

    This bill would allow an employer to get a peace order for an act of abuse that occurred at the workplace against an employee so long as the employee does not have the kind of relationship with the abuser that would allow her/him to get a protective order.

    What is a Peace Order?

     The Peace Order is a form of legal protection for anyone who is experiencing problems with an individual, including someone in a dating relationship, a neighbor, a stranger, or anyone else. The Peace Order enables an individual (Petitioner) who wishes to be left alone to ask the Court to order another person (Respondent) to stay away and refrain from any contact with you. This article is a step-by-step guide to help you protect yourself.

    CLICK HERE for more info

     

    Senate Bill 911 - Unlawful Employment Practice - Statute of Limitations and Remedies

    Thsi bill would change the statute of limitations for employment discrimination claims from two years to three years and increased the limits of compensatory damages.

    The bill passed the senate and was sent to the House where it was sent to the Economic Matters committee and no further action has been taken since the hearing on March 30, 2021.

    CLICK HERE for more info

     

    Senate Bill 834 Harassment & Sexual Harassment 

    Per MD SHRM: 

    • We are not taking an active position against this given all employers should want civil workplaces free of sexual harassment

    • We are going to continue to advocate for more clarity on what constitutes harassment; the vague language is problematic

    The bill passed the senate and was sent to the House where it was sent to the Economic Matters committee and no further action has been taken since the hearing on March 30, 2021.

    CLICK HERE for more info

     

    For those of you with employees in West Virginia, the legislative session ended April 10 at midnight.  A number of important bills passed that will affect employers.  Here is a summary:

    Senate Bill 277 passed and is a broad liability shield for employers, health care facilities known as the “COVID-19 Jobs Protection Act.”  The stated purpose of the Act is to: “Eliminate the liability of the citizens of West Virginia and all persons including individuals, health care providers, health care facilities, institutions of higher education, businesses, manufacturers, and all persons whomsoever, and to preclude all suits and claims against any persons for loss, damages, personal injuries, or death arising from COVID-19 and to “provide assurances to businesses that reopening will not expose them to liability for a person’s exposure to COVID-19.”  Employees will be limited to workers compensation benefits for work related injury disease or death caused by or arising from COVID-19 except in cases where the actual malice is proven.  The law also provides that :

    Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, except as provided by this article, there is no claim against any person, essential business, business, entity, health care facility, health care provider, first responder, or volunteer for loss, damage, physical injury, or death arising from COVID-19, from COVID-19 care, or from impacted care.

    Significantly, this bill is effective retroactively from January 1, 2020, and applies to any cause of action accruing on or after that date.  See https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2021_SESSIONS/RS/bills/SB277%20SUB1%20ENR.pdf

     

    Senate Bill 275 – West Virginia will soon have an intermediate appellate court after many years of working towards that the goal.  The court will have three judges elected in non-partisan elections and will hear appeals from the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges and Board of Review after June 2022 as well as other specified types of cases.  Here is a link to the 79 page bill: https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2021_SESSIONS/RS/bills/SB275%20SUB2%20ENR.pdf.

     

    Senate Bill 272, effective June 9, 2021 clarifies the classification of individuals as employees versus independent contractors.  This impacts many aspects of the employment relationship including workers compensation, unemployment compensation, wage payment and collection and Human Rights issues.   West Virginia Employment Law Worker Classification Act provides a path for creating an independent contractor relationship and requires a written contract with s number of required elements.  See https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2021_SESSIONS/RS/bills/SB272%20SUB1%20ENR.pdf

       

      Thanks,

      Tracey

       

      Tracey Eberling

      Member
      Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

      1250 Edwin Miller Boulevard, Suite 300
      Martinsburg, WV 25404

      O: 304-262-3532 F: 304-933-8748 C: 240-626-1042 
      tracey.eberling@steptoe-johnson.com
      www.steptoe-johnson.com