Employers' Certain Fallout From COVID-19
Bad employees will seek ways to take advantage of their employers
Employers throughout the nation are doing their best to handle the COVID-19 crisis, which includes having to navigate a host of uncharted legal issues affecting their workplaces and workforces. These decisions have to be made quickly and without the benefit of well-established legal guidance. Even though employers are operating in good faith trying to manage these novel issues, you can bet that plaintiffs’ lawyers are gearing up to sue employers for all manner of COVID-related personnel actions. This post discusses the types of claims we anticipate, and also discusses “litigation shield” bills that are being considered in several states and on the federal level.
Wage and Hour Claims
In California, it is a virtual certainty that the plaintiffs’ bar will pursue COVID-related wage and hour actions against employers, both on behalf of individual employees and on a representative basis through the already-abused PAGA law. Anticipated wage and hour claims include (1) claims alleging that non-exempt employees working remotely were not paid for all hours worked (due to relaxed or different timekeeping systems used for remote work and/or due to performing some work while on an unpaid furlough), (2) claims alleging that employees were not reimbursed for all necessary business expenses associated with remote work, (3) claims that employees were not reimbursed for supplying personal protective equipment (e.g. masks and/or gloves) used in the workplace; (4) claims that employees who were temporarily furloughed and then laid off were not timely paid their final wages; and (4) claims that exempt employees had pay deductions that violated the salary rule requiring that exempt employees generally must be paid their full salary for any workweek in which they perform work.
Employers concerned about any of these listed issues should try to take steps to review their pay practices now to mitigate the risk of litigation ahead.
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