Last week we reviewed five of the most common, and problematic, labor and employment law issues in bankruptcy. You can read last week’s article here. Below are five additional labor and employment law concerns in bankruptcy that companies must know and assess when they are undergoing bankruptcy.

6. Back Wages

Companies must obviously pay

The next phase in the ever evolving COVID-19 and coronavirus crisis are the upcoming bankruptcies. This year was already shaping up to be an interesting year, but the coronavirus rapidly accelerated bankruptcy declarations. One article estimates that approximately 100,000 businesses have permanently closed and another article states that more than 57 million people have filed

On January 25, 2021, the United States Supreme Court dismissed, as “improvidently granted,” a writ of certiorari it had previously granted on a petition asking it to consider “[w]hether a provision in an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negates an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator.” 

With recent increased investments in wind power, the development of floating offshore wind farms presents the potential to access areas previously unavailable. On floating offshore wind farms,  a wind turbine is attached to a floating structure which is tethered to the sea floor, as opposed to the turbine being a fixed foundation in the sea. This allows the wind turbines to operate in deeper waters.[1]
Continue Reading Floating Foundations: The Future of Offshore Wind

U.S. and European major oil companies are beginning to re-evaluate their business structure and investment strategies in light of the current financial, legal, and social climate. In response, the industry is seeing a varying degree of investments in renewable energy and commitments to climate-related goals.  As companies make this transition into renewable energy, one sector picking up speed is wind energy.

BP, which rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000, announced in February of this year its plans of becoming a net-zero emissions company by 2050. In August, BP set forth its strategy towards net-zero emissions, which includes plans to have 50 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity by 2030, up from the 2.5 gigawatts it currently has.

Continue Reading Oil Majors’ Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions Leads to Investments in Wind Energy

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) – which bans employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex – prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. This decision marks a pivotal change from prior decisions of federal appellate and district courts which held that Title VII only banned discrimination based on the biological distinctions between persons born as male and female. It also obviates the need for the types of bills that have been submitted to Congress annually to expand the language of Title VII to include references to sexual orientation, gender stereotyping, and gender identity.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Federal Anti-Discrimination Law Protects Gay And Transgender Workers

The Department of Labor (the “DOL”), the Treasury Department (the “Treasury”), and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”)  have recently issued guidance extending certain deadlines and providing certain relief for retirement plans in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Discussed below are (1) EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, (2) DOL “COVID-19 FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries,” (3) IRS Notice 2020-23, and (4)  IRS “Coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans and IRAs questions and answers.”
Continue Reading Guidance and Relief for Retirement Plans Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued two noteworthy enforcement memos. The first memo announced the reversal of OSHA’s April 10, 2020 policy that limited the requirement to track on-the-job cases of COVID-19 to health-care facilities, emergency response providers, and corrections facilities. The new policy, which goes into effect on May 26, 2020, mandates that all employers who are required to maintain OSHA injury and illness logs determine whether employees’ cases of the COVID-19 virus are “work-related” and record those that meet certain requirements. Specifically, employers subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements must record a case of COVID-19 as job-related if (1) it is a confirmed case of the virus as defined by the CDC, (2) it is “work-related” in that an event or exposure in the work environment either contributed to or caused an employee to contract the virus, and (3) it results in death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness or involves a significant diagnosed injury or illness. Employers who have no recordkeeping obligations need only report work-related COVID-19 illnesses resulting in an employee’s death or in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
Continue Reading OSHA Addresses Reporting COVID-19 Cases as Job-Related and In-Person Workplace Inspections