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Summary of Answers at 8 on October 7th

Recent Legal Updates:

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 169

  • This order began Friday, October 2nd at 5pm, taking NC into Phase 3 of pandemic recovery with caution.
  • For FAQs and answers from the Governor’s office, click here.
  • State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current executive order expires on October 23rd. 

Other Topics Covered:

Managing Political Discussions at Work

Employers should be promoting ground rules that hold employees accountable for their behavior, focused around civility, respect and responsibility. Political discussions are okay, as long as they are civil discussions.

  • Remind employees of your expectation through general (and non-political) civility or respectful-workplace training.
  • Establish a clear differentiation between political opinions (tolerated) and unlawful harassment or other more generalized bullying (not tolerated).
  • Do not have an organizational position towards one candidate or another. If the CEO or a manager is actively and vocally pro-Trump, for example, employees with a differing view likely will feel marginalized and unwilling to offer a contrary opinion.
  • Consider keeping workplace televisions (such as in the lunchroom) tuned to something other than a news channel.
  • Limit political displays in the workplace (i.e., buttons, shirts, banners, signs, etc.). But, if you allow for one, you must allow for all.

FFCRA Update

  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees have been managing the FFCRA/Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s leave provisions for 27 weeks: April 2 – October 8, 2020.
  • The maximum amount of time under this Act for childcare-related issues is 12 weeks. 
  • FFCRA time is likely exhausted for many employees trying to work and take care of their children, due to no fault of their own. This is a time to consider any flexibility you can provide and a time to heighten communications with those employees.

Often-Misinterpreted Covid-19 Guidance

  • Employees exposed to a positive Covid-19 case (or a presumed positive) should quarantine for 14 days regardless of a negative test result.
  • Wear a mask. Even if they were wearing a mask, however, if someone has close contact to a COVID case (exposed within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer to an infected person), quarantine for 14 days. Social distancing is key.
  • Employers – be transparent about positive COVID cases and presumed-positive tests with employees while maintaining confidentiality.

COVID Employment Decisions

As we have discussed during past webinars, it is critically important to ensure your COVID-19 employment decisions, such as employee layoffs and returning EEs to the workplace, do not lead to claims of wrongful termination. 

  • Develop written neutral and objective criteria for selecting employees for layoff/furlough/recall (e.g., seniority).
  • After applying criteria, review who will be affected and make sure there is not a disproportionate impact on employees in a protected class (age, gender, race, etc.).
  • Document your decision-making just in case it is called into question.
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