October 15, 2021

Volume XI, Number 288

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October 15, 2021

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October 14, 2021

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October 13, 2021

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California Workers Can’t Ditch Masks Just Yet

In a closely-watched vote, yesterday (June 3, 2021), California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board  approved controversial amendments to the Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) related to COVID-19.  If approved by the Office of Administrative Law within the 10 day review period, the new ETS (available here) will require (among many other things) most California workers (whether or not they are vaccinated) to continue to wear face masks “when indoors, when outdoors and less than six feet away from another person, and where required by orders from the … [California Department of Public Health] or local health department[s].”  Employees will not be required to wear a mask when they are alone in a room or while eating and drinking, if socially distanced and outside or inside with maximized outside air-supply.  Fully-vaccinated employees without COVID-19 symptoms will be able to forgo masks when they are outdoors or when everyone in a room is fully-vaccinated and nobody has any COVID-19 symptoms.  Likewise, masks will not be required where employees must undertake “[s]pecific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering,” although this exception is “limited to the time period in which such tasks are actually being performed.”

A subcommittee has been established to consider additional revisions to the new ETS language in the coming weeks.  However, as of June 3rd, less than ½ of the total California population is “fully-vaccinated.”  Therefore, for the time being, this means that even if California’s Department of Public Health revises its face masking requirements to more closely-align with those promulgated by the CDC in May, many California employees still will need to wear masks at work—at least when they are in the company of other employees.

The updated ETS language faced spirited opposition from employers.  In addition to the masking requirements, the California Chamber of Commerce identified a number of other seriously problematic provisions, including language requiring employers to stockpile and provide N-95 masks to unvaccinated employees by July 31, 2021.

We’ll bring you more information when we know it.

© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 155
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About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

310-284-5690
Kate Gold Labor and Employment Lawyer Proskauer
Partner

Kate Gold is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department in the Los Angeles office.

Kate has over 25 years of experience representing clients in a range of industries, across all areas of employment law.  An experienced litigator, she has represented clients in all types of employment-related suits, including class and collective actions, discrimination, retaliation and harassment, non-compete and wage/hour matters.  In addition to litigating, she conducts high-level workplace investigations and routinely counsels clients on matters involving the full range of state and...

+1.310.284.5623
Phillipe Lebel labor & Employment Attorney Los Angeles Proskauer Law Firm
Associate

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class-action context, at both the trial and appellate level, and before administrative agencies. Phil also represents employers in connection with labor law matters, such as labor arbitrations and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. Additionally, Phil counsels clients to ensure compliance with federal...

+1.310.284.4558
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