Legal Alert: COVID-19 Updates

This Legal Alert addresses topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are most relevant to nonprofits. In this rapidly-changing environment, please contact your local Pro Bono Partnership office for the most current information. Please also bookmark the Pro Bono Partnership COVID-19 Nonprofit Resources page for information we have published or compiled.

Federal Law Updates

CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program Update

We have updated our article, The CARES Act: Financial Relief for Nonprofits, to reflect the issuance by the Small Business Administration of an additional rule that provides guidance on the SBA’s affiliate rules in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and of FAQs for faith-based organizations participating in the PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

OSHA Recordkeeping Obligations in Light of COVID-19 [Revised 9/8/20]

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued revised interim guidance explaining when a workplace-related case of COVID-19 is a recordable illness under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements. For an explanation of this new OSHA guidance document, see Nixon Peabody’s OSHA Issues Revised Recordkeeping Guidance for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

To learn more about OSHA reporting and recordkeeping requirements generally, see Pro Bono Partnership’s A Nonprofit’s Guide to OSHA, which also discusses an employer’s obligation to report workplace incidents resulting in (1) one or more fatalities or (2) the in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees to OSHA within 8 hours or 24 hours, respectively.

CDC and OSHA Issue COVID-19 Best Practices that Will Help Nonprofits Maintain Safe Workplaces and Minimize the Risk of Employee Lawsuits

If an employee becomes ill or dies as a result of work-related COVID-19 exposure, there is a significant chance that a claim will be filed against the employer in Workers’ Compensation Court or a trial court. As explained in Fisher Phillips’ How To Avoid Wrongful Death And Injury Claims For Workplace COVID-19 Exposure, two of the best ways to reduce the risk of such a claim and minimize an adverse judgment are to follow CDC and OSHA best practices for combating the spread of the coronavirus.

These best practices will be particularly important as nonprofits reopen operations. For additional thoughts about resuming operations, see Fisher Phillips’s Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers, Morgan Lewis’ Reopening the Workplace: A Preliminary Guide for Employers, and Seyfarth Shaw’s Strategies for Developing a Return to Work Action Plan.

State Law Updates

New Jersey’s Family Leave and Benefits Laws Expanded to Include COVID-19 Related Reasons

As a result of April 14, 2020 amendments to the New Jersey Family Leave Act, when there is a declared state of emergency an employees can take leave to care for a family member when the leave is made necessary by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease. The New Jersey family leave insurance benefit and the New Jersey temporary disability insurance benefit were also expanded to cover these same a communicable disease situations. For more details, see Jackson Lewis’ New Jersey Amends Family Leave, Temporary Disability Laws to Expand COVID-19 Benefits and Seyfarth Shaw’s Paid Leave and Coronavirus—Part XII: More New Jersey COVID-Related Paid Leave Amendments, Including School Closure Leave, Signed into Law.

For a comprehensive of the obligations New Jersey employers have with respect to COVID-19, including applicable benefit and leave laws, see Jackson Lewis’ New Jersey COVID-19 Resource Guide.

New Jersey’s Nonprofit Corporation Act Amended to Permit (1) Totally Remote Membership Meetings During the COVID-19 Pandemic and (2) Members to Participate in Membership Meetings Remotely at Any Time

On April 14, 2020, the New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act was amended to permit nonprofit corporations to:

  1. Hold membership meetings solely by remote communication, but only during a state of emergency declared by the governor.
  2. Hold membership meetings at a designated physical location and allow members to participate by remote communication, regardless of whether there is a declared state of emergency.

To read more about this, see our new article, New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act Amended to Allow Meetings of Members to Be Held Remotely.

New Jersey’s WARN Act Does Not Apply to Mass Layoffs and Facility Closings Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Employers with 100 or more employees that have “mass layoffs” or facility closings need to be concerned with both the federal and NJ WARN Acts, which require advance notice of those events. As Day Pitney reports in New COVID-19 Amendments to New Jersey’s WARN Act Provide Some Relief for Employers, as result of an April 14, 2020 amendment to the NJ WARN Act, the advance notice requirements of the NJ WARN Act no longer apply to mass layoffs and closings due to national emergencies, such as the COVID-19 crisis.

This document is provided as a general informational service to volunteers, clients, and friends of Pro Bono Partnership. It should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does distribution of this document create an attorney-client relationship.