Posts from March 2020.

In the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are having to re-evaluate their short-term and long-term needs. There are several actions companies can take to avoid business disruption.

1. Create a response team. Appoint key personnel within your company to monitor daily developments and guidance from federal, state and local governments and health officials and to develop a planned response, as appropriate. The response team should include representatives from human resources, finance, IT and management and meet at a set time each day.

2. Comply with the law.
 Federal ...
Posted in Employment

The Department of Labor (DOL) shared more insights into the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). These latest additions to the DOL’s guidance include a few surprises, which we’ve highlighted here.

One of the biggest surprises was that the DOL provided two different definitions of the exact same words in the Act—Health Care Providers:

  • For purposes of determining who can advise an employee to self-quarantine, a “health care provider” is limited to a licensed doctor of medicine, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider permitted to issue a ...
Posted in Employment

Yesterday, March 26, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued additional guidance on how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be applied, the latest in a string of expected clarifications leading up to the April 1 effective date. The FFCRA includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). This guidance provided several important clarifications for employers on the DOL’s enforcement policy.

Here are the highlights:

Implications of Furloughs and Closures

  • Furloughed employees, or employees whose ...

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, has been passed by Congress and awaits signature by the President. The CARES Act includes the much anticipated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), establishing the guidelines for a new category of loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (or SBA) that will soon be available to certain eligible businesses. The loans are intended to provide borrowers much-needed liquidity during these uncertain times, and, notably, the principal amounts borrowed under the PPP may be entirely forgiven under ... Read More 

On March 27, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 121, a statewide "Stay at Home" order, which is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state.

The Order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2020, and will remain in effect for 30 days, unless revised or rescinded by further action of the Governor. It supplements prior orders, the provisions of which remain in effect, including the prohibition on dining-in at restaurants and other restrictions.

The intent of the Order is to ensure that the maximum number of North Carolina residents ... Read More 

The Golden LEAF Foundation is providing $15 million in funding to launch a rapid recovery loan program in response to economic losses for small businesses related to COVID-19. The program is being launched by a consortium of public, private and non-profit partners who have come together to help stabilize North Carolina’s small business sector during these uncertain times. The program will be managed by the NC Rural Center and is designed to provide a bridge for small businesses needing immediate capital while they are in the process of applying for a Small Business Administration ... Read More 

As companies navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, they should take stock of existing insurance policies that may provide coverage for:

  • damages and losses suffered by the company, or
  • potential liability of the company.

What Type of Claims Could Arise?

While this pandemic and the government response is unprecedented, your business may encounter several issues giving rise to a claim under one or more types of insurance policies. Examples of these issues and the types of insurance that may provide coverage are:

  • Slowdown or stoppage of business   
    • Property insurance with business ...

Last night the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its first guidance on how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be applied. A description of the provisions of the two new acts requiring leave under the FCRA: the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA), which provides for 12 weeks of leave to care for a child due to school closure, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which provides for 80 hours of leave for certain COVID-19 reasons, can be viewed here.

Here are the key takeaways from the new DOL guidance:

  • Effective Date: The laws go into effect on ...

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a workplace notice that covered employers (including certain federal employers and all private employers with fewer than 500 employees) must provide to employees in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Specifically, the notice provides employees with relevant information regarding their rights under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) portions of the FFCRA. The DOL requires covered employers to post the notice ... Read More 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are facing a wide array of business challenges, many of which would likely not have been contemplated a few weeks ago. These challenges increasingly include government-ordered shutdowns and financial turmoil that may make maintaining existing operations exceedingly difficult. With this uncertainty, many businesses are reviewing their key contracts to see what protections, and potential issues, may exist.

While all contracts are unique and require individual analysis, there are a few key clauses and considerations that all ... Read More 

As COVID-19 has spread throughout the world and within the United States, companies of all sizes have had to make quick decisions about how to implement work-from-home procedures. While many businesses are accustomed to having some of their employees work remotely at any given time, the sudden shift to a majority of the work force being away from controlled office networks and environments presents a unique and heightened set of technical and cybersecurity challenges. Below are a few key considerations that businesses who have made or are trying to make the shift to a work-from-home ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

Employers are faced with difficult and unpleasant choices in response to the current COVID-19 crisis. Some are closing down or reducing operations. This guidance addresses your rights and obligations concerning salaried employees, and suggests strategies available to you.

The general rule under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is, if an employee is “salaried” and works any time during a workweek, the full salary for the workweek is due. For these purposes, “salaried” refers to exempt employees subject to “white collar exemptions” under the FLSA ... Read More 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital for small businesses and private non-profits in North Carolina and other states impacted by COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. The SBA is encouraging all small businesses and private non-profits impacted by COVID-19 in affected states to apply now, with hopes of getting the money in the hands of those who need it in just a few weeks. Here are the highlights of the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (SBA EIDLP).

Who is eligible? All small businesses and ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has posted guidance for employers regarding medical examinations and inquiries during the COVID-19 pandemic, linked here.  

The EEOC’s original guidance focused on current employees. It now clarifies that, under the current circumstances, employers who are hiring can do the following and reminds them of important considerations if they choose to take any of these actions:

  • Screen applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 (as long as done consistently)
  • Take an applicant’s temperature as part of a post-offer, pre-employment ...

This article originally appeared on the North Carolina Bar Association's Blog on March 19, 2020.

North Carolina’s courts have taken further steps to address the impact of COVID-19 on the court system.

North Carolina Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will not be holding travel sessions in April or May. Cases previously scheduled for April or May may still be heard, at the litigants’ option:

  1. Via WebEx the week of May 4 at a specific date and time set by the Court,
  2. At a later date, or
  3. The matter may be decided on the briefs

North Carolina State Trial Courts

Today, Chief Justice Beasley ... Read More 

To our valued clients and friends of the firm:

It is now self-evident that all of us have been impacted by COVID-19. The statement that “we are all in this together” has never been more applicable than now. We hope that you and your family, friends, and colleagues are safe and well, and we are certain that with shared commitment to one another and the needs of our community we will get through this extraordinary time.

Like so many of you, Brooks Pierce has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19. As part of our community, we want you to know that we have taken ... Read More 

Update: President Trump signed these Acts into law on March 18. They are expected to take effect no later than April 2.

Much has been made of the cost to employers of the leave required by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, which have now been passed by Congress and await the President’s signature. Under these new laws, if a non-governmental employer is required to pay wages to employees as a result of either Act, they are entitled to substantial tax relief.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act Relief

Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has posted guidance for employers regarding medical examinations and inquiries during the COVID-19 pandemic, linked here.

The guidance explains why each of the following employer actions are permissible under the current circumstances and reminds employers of important considerations if they are doing any of these:

  • Asking about symptoms of COVID-19
  • Taking body temperature of employees
  • Requiring employees with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home
  • Requiring doctors' notes certifying fitness for duty to return to work

Brooks ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

On March 17, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 118 expanding the availability of unemployment insurance benefits to workers who have been affected by COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus). The changes announced by Governor Cooper are consistent with U.S. Department of Labor guidance issued last week recommending that states utilize unemployment insurance benefits to lessen the financial burden caused by the coronavirus. Additionally, legislation currently pending before the U.S. Senate contains provisions that ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

Update: President Trump signed these Acts into law on March 18. They are expected to take effect no later than April 2.

Today the U.S. Senate voted to adopt House Bill 6201 with some corrections and clarifications. These changes make the bill much narrower than the earlier version. The President is expected to sign the bill into law. Additional legislation is in the works to address concerns about how employers are to meet the immediate cash flow obligation of paying for leave under this bill. 

The main provisions of the adopted bill are summarized below, but one of the most important ... Read More 

Posted in Education

Updated March 27, 2020

In light of CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19, on March 15, 2020, North Carolina Gov. Cooper issued an executive order closing all public schools in North Carolina for two weeks, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, through March 30, 2020.  On March 23, 2020, Gov. Cooper extended the closure to May 15, 2020.

North Carolina State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction is providing North Carolina-specific guidance regarding what local boards of education and school districts are to do while schools are not in session and when ... Read More 

This article originally appeared on the North Carolina Bar Association's Blog on March 13, 2020.

Criminal Justice Section members should pay close attention to rapidly developing guidance from state and federal courts concerning COVID-19. The most recent guidance is summarized below, and the relevant orders are linked. Please also check with your local courts to track developments affecting you and your clients; as of 11:00 a.m. Monday, March 16, 2020, 16 counties were reporting court closings and/or advisories.

NC State Courts

Chief Justice Beasley entered an order on ... Read More 

Posted in Employment

House Bill 6201 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support. It creates an obligation for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide job-protected leave and paid sick leave to employees for absences related to COVID-19. The Senate is expected to take up the bill today, and the President has expressed his support for it. While things could change, as everything has been recently, here’s what we know about the bill now:

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act:

  • What do you mean expansion? There would be a new reason that leave may be ...
Posted in Employment

U.S. employers recognize that COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus) presents a potential hazard to the well-being of their employees, and many have already taken practical steps to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease in the workplace. All employers are encouraged to review guidelines recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (available here) for employer-specific strategies to combat the coronavirus.

While physically preparing workplaces and instructing employees about best practices is vitally important, employers ... Read More 


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