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Benjamin E. Widener is a Shareholder in the Employment and Litigation practice groups at Stark & Stark, and Chairman of the firm’s Employment Law Group, responsible for managing labor and employment work handled by the firm. Ben represents his clients in all aspects of labor and employment law, concentrating his practice in employment litigation and employment counseling. Ben’s practice also includes litigating contract, securities, and business disputes.

As COVID-19 cases continue to mount and the virus continues to push public health systems to their breaking points, perhaps no community has been hit harder than our elders residing in long-term care facilities. As of January 13, 2021, Neshaminy Manor—the largest nursing home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—has seen 218 residents test positive, 85 of whom have died from the virus. Through contact tracing, administrators believe the virus was brought into the home by infected employees despite the nursing home’s best efforts to minimize risk.

Continue Reading Nursing Home to Employees: COVID-19 Vaccination or Job Termination

On November 25, 2020, I asked the ominous question: “Can I require my employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19?” In that article, I first addressed the pivotal, threshold issue of whether a vaccination constituted a “medical examination” or health screening under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as whether a private employer can implement a mandatory vaccination policy turns largely on this issue. However, I also expressed “it is difficult to predict precisely how current jurisprudence on mandatory vaccine rules and policies will translate to the COVID-19 workplace” given the scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading EEOC Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccinations: What Now for Employers?

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages and excitement grows from promising vaccine announcements, employers are asking a critical question: Can I require my employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Although each employer’s circumstances are unique, the short answer is the classic law school answer: “It depends.” The longer answer is “perhaps, but with exceptions, and even then you may want to reconsider.”


Continue Reading Can Employers Require Employees to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19?

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.” There it is. Simple. Direct. Clear. Groundbreaking.

In its landmark decision issued June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects, gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination in employment.


Continue Reading A “Simple, But Momentous” Decision: LGBTQIA Rights Are Protected By Title VII

The federal government has provided new hope for employees affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic by way of an economic stimulus package that includes, among other things, enhanced unemployment benefits.

On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act), which expands the situations in which an employee is eligible to receive unemployment compensation. In addition, the CARES Act provides an enhanced unemployment benefit to employees impacted by COVID-19, enabling employees to receive up to an additional $600.00 per week in unemployment insurance benefits through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.


Continue Reading The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”): What It Could Mean For You

How things have changed since I published my Employer’s Guide to COVID-19 less than a week ago. While the guidance, recommendations, and issue-spotting set forth in that article have not changed, the legal landscape concerning the novel coronavirus has. State governors have issued emergency orders. New laws have taken, or will take, effect. Non-essential business have been instructed to close their doors and convert to remote work arrangements, if possible. People have been advised to stay home. Here’s an update on what’s changed and how it impacts you, your business, and your employees.

Continue Reading Updated Resource & Guide to COVID-19: Emergency Orders, State Lockdowns, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The coronavirus pandemic has arrived in the United States, and it undoubtedly has impacted your business or workforce in some way. On Friday, March 13th, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat COVID-19 and has since issued coronavirus guidelines for America.

At the local level, some states, counties, and municipalities have gone into lockdown by requiring all non-essential public places to close indefinitely until this crisis has passed. On Sunday, March 15th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf mandated the closing of all non-essential businesses in five eastern counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Allegheny). On Monday, March 16th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered the closing of all schools and non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses effective at 8:00 p.m., and instituted a curfew for non-essential and non-emergency travel between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. These mandates will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.


Continue Reading An Employer’s Guide to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 concerns have swept across the country in the last weeks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other governing bodies have called upon all Americans to do what they can to slow the transmission of the disease by practicing social distancing. For employers, that means seriously considering allowing their employees to work remotely.

Continue Reading Remote Working: What Employers Need To Know

Companies are finding themselves in an unprecedented situation, needing to make determinations that keep their employees safe while complying with state and federal laws during the current global health challenge.

Navigating responsibilities, employee rights, and requirements for compliance require complex calculations for employers with the recent spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). While the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other federal and state guidelines can provide instructions for those that have contracted the illness, measures dictated by social distancing are less clear cut.

So what are the factors that should be taken into consideration? Travel restrictions, implementation of remote work policies, and limiting exposure in offices that are open are all part of the current decisions facing businesses.

What are the most important points to consider at this time?


Continue Reading Employers Navigate New Territory With COVID-19 Risks and Accommodations

A New Jersey state jury hit Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp with nearly $1.5 million in net damages over a former company executive’s claims that she was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing. The jury in turn rejected the pharma company’s stance that the employee had been properly terminated for violating company policies.

In a 7-1 votes, the jury awarded $1,816,040 to Min Amy Guo in her whistleblower suit, in which she alleged that she was fired from Novartis for raising concerns in 2012 that a potential cancer drug study for Afinitor by the pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson Corp was possibly a kickback to McKesson to help sell the medicine.


Continue Reading Novartis Hit with $1.5M Whistleblower Suit, Avoids Punitive Damages