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We Mean Business in Texas
Employment
Texas is Open for Business
by Tony Stergio Governor Abbott announced last week that all Texas businesses are allowed to reopen at 100% capacity on March 10, 2021.  Governor Abbott also lifted the public mask mandate at that time.
 
Texas businesses, however, still need to be cautious. Notwithstanding Governor Abbott’s order, businesses must still take steps to protect their employees, and in some cases the employees of others, from COVID-19 exposure.
 
President Biden issued an executive order on January 21st, instructing OSHA to consider issuing emergency temporary standards for COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new safety guidance for COVID-19 protections on January 29, 2021. This guidance builds on previous recommendations concerning how employers should safeguard employees during the ongoing pandemic. Throughout the guidance, OSHA uses the word “should” rather than terms indicating that the guidance rises to the level of an OSHA requirement. However, an emergency temporary standard that the President’s EO suggests, would be mandatory and could be the basis of those particular OSHA citations if employers fail to adhere to the COVID-19 standard. OSHA has not addressed this, and until then, can still issue citations for COVID-related infections and hazards under the general-duty clause and other existing standards.


DOL Delays Trump's Last Minute Independent Contractor Rule

by Tony Stergio The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week that it is delaying the implementation of a new test to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. This test was rolled out near the end of former President Donald Trump's term. We outlined these employer-friendly changes to the independent contractor test here.  The DOL pushed back the effective date on the new test from March 8, 2021 to May 7, 2021.
 
It is speculated that the Biden administration may withdraw this test altogether and issue new guidance designed to make it easier to establish that a worker is an employee rather than an independent contractor.  The standard may look a lot like the employee/independent contractor standard promulgated by the Obama administration.  We will keep you posted.
 
Mandatory or Voluntary Vaccination Policy Update
by Wesley Walker & Tony Stergio Each day, more and more people are vaccinating against the COVID-19 virus. President Biden announced this month, that by the end of May every adult can be vaccinated. This is great news in ending the struggles of this pandemic, but not everyone wants to receive the vaccine. We have touched on whether companies are allowed to mandate that employees get the vaccine. We now need to discuss some of the issues possible when requiring the shot(s), or not.

Mandatory Vaccination Policy Issues
Employers need to provide accommodation under the ADA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has indicated that employers can require employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. Notwithstanding, employers will still have to provide exceptions to any vaccination mandate under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and based upon legitimate religious beliefs.

Under the ADA, employers will likely be required to accommodate disabled employees who cannot take the COVID-19 vaccines due to their disabilities. The EEOC specifically warned that certain pregnancy-related medical conditions might constitute an ADA disability for which an accommodation will be required.  For these and other disabilities, employers must offer vaccine exemptions as an accommodation. That is, unless the employer can show that the unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat due to a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.” 

Reasonable accommodations can include distancing the employee from colleagues, allowing work from home, or anything that would keep everyone out of the way of the virus. Whether or not an exemption is ultimately given, the ADA requires employers to keep confidential all employee medical information obtained in the course of the vaccination program. Read More...
 
Important Information on COVID-19

March 10 - Austin Will Keep Mask Rules in Place Despite Texas Lift Order
March 08 - Back to the Old Normal? Only for the Vaccinated
March 03 - AM Welcomes New Shareholder Charles T. "Chuck" Jeremiah
March 02 - Texas is Open for Business
February 26 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | February 2021
February 22 - Texas Disaster Relief & Employment Update
January 28 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert - January 2021
January 05 - New COVID-19 Relief – What It Means for PPP and FFCRA
December 21 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | December 2020
November 24 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | Happy Thanksgiving!
October 28 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | October
September 30 - Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | September
September 17 - Governor Abbott Held a Press Conference Today
September 14 -- Employment Law & Litigation Update
August 28 -- Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | August 2020
August 17 -- Austin Orders, Houston Request Portal & TX Supreme Court
July 29 -- Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | July 2020
July 15 -- Austin Emergency Rules & Employment Law Updates
July 10 -- Austin City Council Launches Two New Ordinances
July 02 -- Mask Order and Texas Supreme Court Updates
June 30 -- Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | June 2020
June 26 -- The Newest Guidelines for Texas and Houston Residents
June 24 -- Unmasking the Three Mask Orders
June 19 -- Employment Law Update
June 05 -- PPP Flexibility Act
June 04 -- Phase III Texas | OSHA Updates 
May 27 -- PPP Forgiveness | Rent Deferment | Hidalgo Order 
May 19 -- Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert | May 2020 
May 13 -- Good Faith Certification | EEOC & OSHA Updates 
May 06 -- Governor Abbott Accelerates Plan to Reopen Texas
April 28 -- Governor Abbott's Phased Plan to Reopen Business
April 24 -- New PPP and EIDL Funds | Employee COVID-19 Testing
April 23 -- COVID-19 Update | Harris County Face Cover Order
April 21 -- COVID-19 Update | Legal Update | 4.21.2020
April 17 -- New Orders Issued by Governor | COVID & eDiscovery
April 16 -- PPP Funds Depleted | CDC Update
April 14 -- Austin and Travis County Issue Updated Orders
April 13 -- New Programs for Small Businesses | OSHA Updates
April 07 -- PPP & 250 Billion Boost | EIDL | Austin Jobsite Poster
April 06 -- COVID-19 | Legal Update | 4.06.2020
April 03 -- Revised PPP Application| Webinar | Rising Stars
April 02 -- City of Austin Accepts GA 14 Executive Order
April 01 -- Commercial & Multifamily Construction
March 31 -- Governor Issues Support for Construction Industry
March 31 -- COVID-19 | Legal Update 3.31.2020
March 30 -- The CARES Act of 2020 Further Explained
March 29 -- The CARES Act of 2020
March 27 -- UPDATE | Providing Paid Sick Leave and FMLA
March 25 -- City of Austin Memorandum Causing Confusion
March 24 -- Stay Home, Work Safe
March 24 -- Bankruptcy and Restructuring Options
March 23 -- Not Triggering Force Majeure | Litigation Delays
March 20 -- COVID-19 | Latest Development Impacting our Clients
March 19 -- Texas Governor Issues COVID-19 Executive Order
March 19 -- Mechanic's Liens in the Time of Corona
March 19 -- Trump Signs Law to Grant Paid Sick Leave
March 17 -- CDC Guidelines & The Americans with Disabilities Act
March 16 -- Coronavirus Employment Obligations
March 13 -- COVID-19 & Force Majeure

About Andrews Myers
Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.
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