While the COVID-19  pandemic has changed the way we transact our day to day business, live our daily lives and make us more cognizant of our surroundings, the one thing that has not changed is Capehart Scatchard’s dedication to both our current and prospective clients.

Below is a listing, by practice group, that you might find helpful during these unsettled times.

Our Firm is open and our attorneys are available to assist you with your business and personal legal needs.

Labor & Employment

Over the last several months, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has continued to refine its past issued Guidances on what employers can do to safeguard employees from COVID-19 workplace exposure. One such measure that employers can utilize is mandating that all employees be tested for COVID-19. But previously the EEOC never said what type of testing can be done. The EEOC has recently clarified precisely what kind of testing employers can now require of its employees.

With businesses reopening thanks to modifications of state stay at home orders, employers are beginning to contemplate what their new work environments will look like when employees return. Over the past several months, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (‘EEOC”) has provided guidance to employers regarding the ways that a company can safeguard its workplace in this new era of COVID-19. One hot question is whether employers, out of fear of legal liability from possible COVID-19 workplace exposure, can prevent high risk employees who suffer the greatest possible complications from COVID-19 from returning to work merely because of that possibility of greater harm. The EEOC says no, at least not automatically, just because of that high risk of possible complications. 

You have been watching the news, waiting, or in some cases desperately waiting for the government to “re-open the economy.”  This article outlines the steps you can and should take to prepare your company to open safe legally. 

In our COVID-19: What Can An Employer Do? article, we outlined the steps that employers may take to guard against coronavirus in their workplace. Thanks to a recent guidance issued by the EEOC, employers were able to implement several steps, such as taking employee temperatures and insisting that employees stay home if sick, to prevent COVID-19 spread in the workplace. Recently, the EEOC has expanded on this Guidance, and has added another tool for employers to use in their fight to prevent contagion of their workplace. Now, not only can employers require that previously positive COVID-19 employees provide medical documentation that they are fit to return to work, but employers can now also actually choose to administer COVID-19 testing themselves to all employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus. The one important question that the Guidance does not answer, however, is where employers will actually get those tests to administer given the well-publicized testing shortages that currently exist in fighting the on-going pandemic. 

As of April 1, 2020, employers must now comply with the two new federal leave laws recently passed to deal with employee work absences resulting from the COVID 19 crisis:  The Paid Emergency Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.  A summary of each of these provisions is explained in this article. 

If your business is considered essential and you are open during this COVID-19 pandemic, this article gives some insight as to what you should doing to safeguard against a workplace infestation.

Litigation

The New Jersey Supreme Court has approved the first part of the New Jersey Courts Post Pandemic Plan for transitioning from fully remote court operations
(Phase 1) to the gradual return to courthouse and court facilities (Phase 2). The courts will begin the implementation of Phase 2 starting on June 22, 2020.

With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, March 27, 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the suspension of court proceedings, extension of deadlines and tolling time periods (including the time to file Notices of Tort Claims). This article explains what the Court placed into effect and renewed provisions.

Notice was received from the New Jersey state court on March 20, 2020 that all arbitrations are cancelled until April 10, 2020. They will be rescheduled. However, civil arbitrations will resume as of April 13, 2020 with participation to be either via video and/or telephone conference and initiated by an arbitrator.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all New Jersey State courts. This article provides information on how the court is handling proceedings, discovery deadlines, depositions, arbitrations and mediations.

As of March 12, 2020, the New Jersey state courts have suspended all new jury trials until further notice to help minimize community exposure to the coronavirus. Jury trials already in progress will continue. This article goes on to explain how the court plans to handle non-jury trials and other court matters.

School Law

 

Lauren E. Tedesco, Esq., a shareholder in the firm’s School Law Group, was recently interviewed by Special Ed Connection on the topic of accommodations for students who are unable to wear face coverings.

The week of May 18, 2020 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released guidance for K-12 school administrators on the reopening of schools.  The guidance is titled “Interim Guidance for Resuming Schools and Day Camps.”

Follow up to our article “OPRA Deadlines Relaxed Amid Declared Emergencies,” which dealt with the bill Governor Murhy signed into law on March 20, 2020, this article outlines the March 26, 2020 special statement issued by the Government Records Council (“GRC”) regarding the modification. 

The NJ Department of Education has finally released a notice stating permissibly of delivering related services to special education students through remote technology.

The Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”) recently provided additional guidance to school districts on how they can conduct board meetings electronically and still comply with OPRA.

To help local communities work through the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Murphy recently signed into law a bill which will provide meals to New Jersey’s most at-risk students. 

As a result of the public health crisis of COVID-19, on March 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 3849 into law which modifies the deadline by which public agencies are required to respond to requests for government records during the period of a declared emergency. In this article, Sanu Dev, Esq. explains what this new law states.

School boards throughout New Jersey must continue to meet during the coronavirus pandemic to address critical business. Here are the safety precautions they’re implementing

This article covers what school districts can do to tackle situations involving health epidemics, like the current problem they’re facing now.

Wills, Trusts & Estates

  • Updating Your Estate Planning

    This pandemic has forced us to think about things we probably would not be thinking about otherwise.  If you have been wanting to make changes to your estate planning but have felt that now is not the time, NOW really is the time to give your attorney a call to make those changes.  Putting off the changes only adds to the burdens of we are facing daily.  Lift those burdens by taking the steps to make changes to your estate plan and put your mind at ease. It can be done and is much simpler than you might think.

  • IRS Services Alert

We learned on Monday, April 13, 2020 that the only services available with the IRS are electronic services.  The processing of paper income tax returns and telephone assistance have been suspended due to COVID-19. 

The “CARES” Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020.  While the 880-page law covers many different areas, this article looks at only the section dealing with retirement plan required minimum distributions.

This recently found “free time” has prompted many of us to do some deep spring cleaning. If while purging closets and cabinets you come across financial records you forgot you had, Kay Sowa of our firm’s Wills, Trusts & Estates and Business & Tax Groups offers advice on what you should still keep in that box/envelope and what you can possibly shred. 

This article is written by Jennifer Leach, Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC, on various scams to be on alert for regarding Coronavirus stimulus checks.

The Treasury Department and IRS announced that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Here is what you need to know.

Are electronic wills the wave of the future? Here is what we have learned about them.

The stock market has been a big focus in recent weeks and people are afraid when seeing their portfolios lose value. Kay Sowa offers some tips on trying to ride out the tide in this tumultuous time.

Workers’ Compensation

 

A3945 was signed into law on July 1, 2020 by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. The law provides for both an accidental disability pension for an eligible member who becomes totally disabled from COVID-19 as well as a death benefit for eligible beneficiaries if the covered member should die from COVID-19.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Paid Emergency Sick Leave Act became effective on April 1, 2020. Read how this new law impacts employers with less than 500 employees.

Learn under what circumstances employees working remotely are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?.

Per the Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, a limited reopening of the New Jersey WC Courts will occur on Monday, April 6, 2020 to permit telephonic case conferences and settlements.

Could the coronavirus pose compensability issues in New Jersey? Are these claims compensable?