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Race Biases, Workplace Mask Requirements, and Updated COVID-19 Guidance

In today’s Weekend Roundup, racial bias costs a transportation company $1 million, the CDC updates workplace mask restrictions, and the EEOC updates guidance on vaccination incentives. Click the headlines below to learn more!

Race bias case ends with $2 million settlement

A staffing agency and a transportation company will each pay $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit accused the pair of subjecting African American employees to unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit. It targeted two defendants: Kimco Staffing Services, which is based in California, and Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc., a transportation and supply chain solutions company based in Miami.

Managing Workplace Mask Requirements as Restrictions Are Lifted

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently relaxed many of its COVID-19 safety recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated—which raises complicated questions for employers about whether to revise their mask requirements and social-distancing policies.

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated employees can safely work indoors in many situations without wearing masks, social distancing or undergoing COVID-19 screening procedures. “Of course, CDC guidance is not legally binding and only tells employers what behavior CDC thinks is safe based on [the agency’s] expertise with contagious infections and diseases,” explained Pierce Blue, an attorney with Morgan Lewis in Washington, D.C. Employers that are located in a state or municipality that continues to mandate masks and social distancing must follow those orders, he noted.

EEOC Updates COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Vaccination Incentives, Reasonable Accommodation, and Other Issues

On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated the vaccination section (section K) of its “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” The update clarifies a number of vaccination issues with which employers have grappled without any official guidance to advise them.

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