Top Legal Issues for Employers in 2022

Among the subjects contributing to the top legal issues employers faced in 2022 were COVID-19 vaccination requirements, a potentially new overtime rule from DOL, the economic downturn, new state laws, and post-Dobbs abortion access for employees.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

Employers became uncertain of their legal options when some employees refused to get COVID-19 vaccinations. As a result, the EEOC issued guidance stating that federal anti-discrimination laws did not prevent employers from requiring vaccinations for employees in the workplace. Employers must grant reasonable accommodations based on medical necessity or sincerely held religious beliefs, except where it would be an undue burden.

The U.S. Supreme Court also weighed in on the issue, blocking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s rule requiring employee vaccinations or testing for large employers. The high Court ruled in a separate decision that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could require COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities. 

Proposed DOL Overtime Rule on the Horizon

Employers awaited the DOL’s proposed overtime rule in 2022, which it previously had slated to release in October. Although the DOL intends to issue an overtime-related proposal, it has yet to do so. Many anticipate that the proposed rule will increase minimum salary-level thresholds for white-collar exemptions to the overtime rule. 

Economic Downturn Prompts Review of WARN Act Requirements

As the economy slowed precipitously throughout the year, employers considered or proceeded with employee layoffs. In doing so, they revisited the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN) Act, as well as state and local jurisdiction “mini-WARN Act” requirements. Increases in remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic made compliance with the requirements of these laws more challenging, with mass layoffs resulting in lawsuits for employers. 

Awareness of State Laws, Both New and Old

Although no federal law requires employers to offer time off for employees to vote in federal, state, or local elections, thirty states and the District of Columbia have such laws that employers must follow. 

As workers increasingly report political affiliation bias in the workplace, some jurisdictions have begun to prohibit discrimination based on political affiliation. These states include California, New York, and the District of Columbia. 

Maryland and Missouri both passed ballot initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana usage. Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected similar measures. 

The state of California enacted multiple laws in 2022 that impact employers. First, the state enacted a law requiring employers to provide greater pay transparency in their job listings and reports to the state. Next, Governor Gavin Newsom signed bills into law requiring time off for employees in various circumstances. For instance, employees may take as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for a designated person with a serious illness. 

Dobbs Ruling Prompts Employers to Rethink Abortion Access for Employees

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, employers investigated the potential for or implemented policy changes concerning abortion access for employees. Benefits changes considered include PTO for employees accessing abortion services and relief funds or travel expenses for employees who cannot access abortion in their state of residence. Still, employers in the state that restrict or prohibit abortion must be mindful of potential liability in extending these benefits to their employees. 

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.


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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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