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Essential Business Orders

Over the last several days, Governors in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have issued similar Executive Orders directing all workers at "non-essential" or "not critical" businesses in their states to stay at home for varying periods of time. The orders, which have all gone or will go into effect by Sunday night, March 22, 2020, extend from two weeks to four weeks depending on the state, with more states likely to follow. In each case, the Governors are focused on taming the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

These orders are creating confusion across the United States because they are similar but all different to varying degrees. They rely on different definitions--some like California and Connecticut rely on 16 critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, while the others create their own standards. The issue is further complicated by local counties and cities such as Los Angeles County adopting different standards that do not necessarily sync up with the California Governor's order. Businesses all over America are trying to determine if they and their own suppliers are critical parts of the supply chain of essential or critical businesses like food, personal and cleaning products (e.g., Costco, WalMart, Walgreen's and grocery stores), healthcare (e.g., hospitals, doctor's offices and licensed medical facilities) and defense so they can continue to operate. Letters are being provided by essential and critical businesses to vendors and contractors in their supply chain to ensure the continued movement of goods, products and services. Others are obtaining certifications from governmental entities though the Orders do not require any specific certifications.

If your business is deemed non-critical or non-essential and you can't operate via employees remotely at home, you will be closed for all practical purposes in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut. Some uniform examples are retail stores in indoor malls, nail salons, health clubs and dine-in restaurants.

All of these Orders are being issued in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and have guidance for employers on required postings and certain policies to assure as safe a workplace as possible. Similar to the Orders themselves, this guidance is not uniform. Employers also need to make decisions on how to notify employees that they are continuing to operate and to help them with assurances that they can get to work.

© 2020 Vedder PriceNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 82

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About this Author

Michael A. Nemeroff, Vedder Price Law Firm, Finance Attorney
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Michael A. Nemeroff is President and CEO of Vedder Price and Chairman of the Finance and Transactions group. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the firm’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Nemeroff counsels corporations in mergers and acquisitions transactions and governance matters. He provides private equity firms and hedge funds with experienced direction in leveraged and management buyouts and guides financial institutions in complex finance transactions. Further, Mr. Nemeroff negotiates and structures executive compensation...

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Amy L. Bess, Vedder Price Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney
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Amy L. Bess is a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Vedder Price P.C. and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Area.  Her employment litigation experience includes the representation of employers before state and federal courts and administrative agencies, defending against claims of race, sex, disability and age discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, restrictive covenant disputes, wrongful termination and wage and hour violations.  She regularly counsels clients in all of these areas, drafts and negotiates employment and severance agreements, conducts on-site workplace investigations, presents training seminars and speaks to employer groups on avoiding workplace problems.

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Thomas G. Hancuch, Employee Benefits Lawyer, Vedder Price law firm
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Thomas G. Hancuch is a shareholder at Vedder Price where he represents employers in all aspects of employee benefits, labor and employment law. His practice focuses on employee benefit plan design and administration, benefit claims and litigation; employee relations and benefits aspects of mergers; acquisitions; workforce reductions and outsourcing; leaves of absence and accommodation of employees with disabilities; employment discrimination; harassment and retaliation claims; employee leasing and worker classification; executive compensation; wage and hour laws;...

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Jeanah Park Shareholder Bank Litigation Class Action Defense Complex Commercial Litigation Corporate Liability Director & Officer Defense
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Jeanah Park is a Shareholder at Vedder Price and a member of the firm’s Litigation practice area and Antitrust and Competition, and Financial Services sub-practice groups.

She counsels and represents clients in business and employment disputes, including commercial contract, wrongful discharge, securities, intellectual property and business tort disputes.

Ms. Park has extensive experience in a variety of complex commercial litigation, class action and employment matters, including counseling clients and litigating issues pertaining to the protection of trade secrets, the...

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Patrick W. Spangler, Vedder Price Law firm, Labor Employment Attorney
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Patrick W. Spangler is an attorney at Vedder Price, where he represents employers in all aspects of employee benefits, labor and employment law. His practice focuses on: EEO and ERISA litigation; employee benefit plan design and administration; and labor, employment and benefits issues associated with major business changes, including reorganizations, facility closures and reductions in force.

312-609-7797