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GC of NLRB Encourages Regional Offices to Pursue Alternative Make-Whole Remedies

On September 8, 2021, the Office of the General Counsel to the NLRB issued a memorandum to all Regional Directors encouraging them “to continue exploring new and alternative remedies” to ensure that the victims of unfair labor practices are made whole for the losses they suffer as a result of unlawful conduct. See Memorandum GC 21-06 (Sept. 8, 2021). This is an important development for employers to monitor because it strongly suggests that the NLRB plans to seek harsher remedies for unfair labor practice violations than it has done historically.

Sweeping New Federal COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates on the Horizon for American Employers and Employees

On September 9, 2021, the Biden Administration announced a new plan to use federal regulatory powers to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans. The thrust of the administrative initiative involves “substantially increas[ing] the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements,” primarily through mandates that “will become dominant in the workplace.” The Administration estimates that these new mandates will affect over 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated but who have not yet gotten their first COVID-19 shot.

Federal Court Decision in Maui Remand Could Expand EPA’s Wastewater Permitting Authority

Companies in a wide variety of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, power generation, and utilities, that manage wastewater effluent in surface impoundments, lagoons, land application, septic systems, underground injection, or similar methods will want to evaluate the recent court decision in the County of Maui case on remand from the Supreme Court and how it could significantly impact wastewater permitting in the future.  The case is the first federal district court to work through the “functional equivalent” analysis for federal jurisdiction over groundwater set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in its April 2020 ruling involving the very same parties and operative facts.

SEC Sanctions Broker-Dealers, Investment Advisory Firms for Deficient Cybersecurity Procedures

The Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned eight registered broker-dealer and investment advisory firms this week for failures in their cybersecurity policies and procedures. Those failures resulted in email account takeovers, which exposed the personal information of thousands of customers and clients at each firm. Those firms paid penalties ranging from $200,000 to $300,000.

Tax Credit Available to Small Businesses for Making Websites ADA Compliant

Plaintiff’s attorneys have increasingly sued companies alleging their websites fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), California Unruh Civil Rights Act, and similar state laws that prohibit discrimination against disabled individuals. The justification of these lawsuits is that companies with websites that do not allow those with disabilities to use and enjoy the website are engaging in unlawful discrimination. While the law remains unsettled in this area (e.g. there is disagreement over the “standard for accessibility” and which companies may be obligated to have accessible websites), judges are increasingly enforcing anti-discrimination laws against companies that do not have accessible websites. The cost of non-compliance can be staggering, costing companies exponentially more than had the company just made their website accessible.

Important Reminder – Special COBRA Notice Deadline is Approaching Fast

The deadline to send a new COBRA notice required under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) is approaching quickly.  Employers and COBRA administrators will need to send those notices no later than September 15, 2021, to satisfy that obligation.

Essential Health Care Checklist for College Students

The dog days of summer are behind us, and National Back-to-School Month is well underway. Parents across the country are checking off tasks on their lists in order to get their college students ready to go back to school.  If it’s not already on the list, parents need to make sure that their college student has appropriate health care documents in place for anything that comes their way.

OSHA Assesses Significant Penalties for Alleged Asbestos Mismanagement at Missouri Nursing Facility

OSHA’s Kansas City Area Office recently cited three employers for allegedly exposing workers and residents to asbestos hazards and failing to ensure safe removal of the known carcinogen during a flooring replacement project at a Monett, Missouri, nursing facility.  Proposed penalties for the three employers totaled approximately $240,000.

EPA Fines Companies for Air Emissions from RCRA Waste Tanks and Equipment

Companies that store hazardous waste liquids with organics or other volatile and light vapors should ensure that the tanks, containers, and equipment used at those facilities satisfy the RCRA Organic Air Emission Standards in Subparts AA, BB, and CC under 40 CFR Parts 264 and 265.  Over the past month, EPA has announced at least five separate penalty enforcement actions for air emission violations under the Subpart BB and Subpart CC standards.  EPA promulgated the RCRA hazardous waste air emission standards to reduce the release of air emissions and organic vapors into the atmosphere from hazardous waste tanks, containers, equipment, and process vents, to prevent ozone precursors and other air toxics.

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Non-Economic Damages Cap

On July 22, 2021, the Missouri Supreme Court issued its opinion in the matter of Ordinalo Velazquez v. University Physician Associates, et al. In a victory for health care providers, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to non-economic damages caps in actions based on the provision of medical services.

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