You may have noticed that this blog has been a little quiet of late. Like a lot of people, I’m pretty sure that after four months of non-stop pandemic-related employment law work, I had reached a breaking point.
And so I took vacation last week. Of course, like a lot of you, we didn’t go very far. I read, watched my Yankees play some baseball, swam, slept, and then tried not to engage in “doomscrolling”. I even got to see the Neowise Comet (pictured above).
For Connecticut residents, vacation destinations are really limited by ever-changing quarantine orders being established. In fact, while I was out last week, the rules changed again and there have been all sorts of developments.
So, rather than write separately on the new sets of rules that have been put out by Connecticut, I thought I would recap all of what’s occurred the last week or so for employers.
- While the previous travel quarantine was termed “advisory“, any remaining doubt of the teeth of this rule has been put to bed by Executive Order 7III which replaces the “advisory” quarantine with a mandatory one effective July 24, 2020. Workers who travel to impacted states who work in “critical infrastructure are exempt from this self-quarantine requirement . The penalty? Up to a $1000 fine for each violation.
- There are now 31 states that meet the criteria for an impacted state; while there is a testing alternative to the self-quarantine, this updated list (as well as the delays in finding out results of the such tests) should make people think twice about travelling for vacation.
- Governor Lamont has made it easier for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to sustain a claim for workers’ compensation by making a rebuttable presumption that an employee who missed work between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020 was an occupational illness provided four criteria are met: a) such employee worked outside the home; b) the date of the injury was 14 days after March 23, 2020 and the employee worked for an “essential” employer as defined by the DECD; c) COVID-19 was confirmed by a test or doctor; d) the test result or written diagnosis is available for the employer or insurer’s review. Any FFCRA paid sick leave payments received will offset any recovery by the employee.
- In addition, and importantly, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-290a has also been amended to provide for a cause of action if an employer “deliberately misinforms or otherwise deliberately dissuades an employee from filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits”. Employers should be mindful of allowing employees to file such a claim without interference from the employer.
- All of the Phase 2 sector rules have been modestly updated or refreshed. They include the following:
- Indoor recreation is allowed to reopen with some explanations for places like movie theaters and bowling alleys;
- Offices and retail stores (and some others) now have the ability to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask. If an employee tests positive at such a business, the rules now recommend a 24-hour passive decontamination;
- For restaurants, servers are no longer required to wear gloves and indoor performances are now allowed
- Hotels are also now allowed to start offering non-essential servies such as valet or ice machines.
- My colleagues and I have been hard at work providing guidance to both public and independent schools on reopening plans. Will it be safe? That remains an open question and with the numbers in the state very slowly creeping up, is it only a matter of time before our “controlled” pandemic here in the state becomes uncontrolled yet again?
Incidentally, one of the books I read was “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. It was a powerful (and sobering) story about justice and race in America over the last few decades. I highly recommend it.