Tagged: Soldon McCoy

Naomi Soldon of the Law Office of Soldon McCoy Discusses Legal Concerns Regarding Employees Returning to the Office

Since the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan began in December 2020, more than 317 million doses of the vaccines have been distributed within the United States, leading many employers to ask their employees to return to the office after more than a year and a half of remote work. As expected, an onslaught of lawsuits are now taking place regarding employees’ rights to continue to work from home, the right to remain unvaccinated, and other concerns regarding COVID-19 exposure and employees returning to an in-office setting. Naomi Soldon, a Wisconsin-based attorney, specializing in labor and employment law, recognizes the significance of this development and hopes to answer some of the most common concerns related to returning to the office. 

Companies Requiring Workers to Get COVID-19 Vaccination 

One of the most widely discussed questions within American media today is whether or not companies will be able to require employees to provide confirmation of vaccination before returning to the office. Legally, companies are allowed to require documentation of vaccination. In fact, companies have already exercised this right as the majority of companies require proof of flu vaccination from new employees. However, if an employee refuses to be vaccinated due to a disability or religious belief, the company must provide the exempt employee with “reasonable accommodations” that do not pose an “undue hardship” on the business. Some examples of these reasonable accommodations include: 

– Asking the unvaccinated worker to wear a face mask during work hours

– Allowing the employee to continue to work remotely 

– Requiring the employee to perform periodic COVID-19 tests

 Firing Workers Who Refuse to Return to the Office

For many years, the American workforce has pushed for employers to offer more remote work options to improve national “work-life balance.” For this reason, it comes as no surprise that many American employees are now hesitant to return to the office now that they have seen the benefits of working remotely. In fact, one recent survey found that 58% of workers say they will “absolutely” look for a new job if their current company requires them to return to the office post-pandemic. While employees can look for new positions that offer remote work options, Naomi Soldon wants to stress that workers cannot legally refuse to return to the office. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employees do not have the right to refuse to return to their job because of unsafe work conditions.

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Unions

As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, unions continue to be an essential tool for workers in helping to secure workplace safety measures, paid sick time, additional premium pay, and work-share arrangements. While the necessity of unions is clear, many groups of workers throughout America are hesitant to unionize in fear of employer retaliation. Attorney Naomi Soldon, a partner at Soldon McCoy, specializes in employment law and has handled countless employee benefits suits in arbitration and in state and federal courts. Today, Naomi Soldon will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding unions and unionizing in hopes of reducing misinformation regarding this topic.

Why are Unions Important?

The power imbalance between workers and employers is prominent, and oftentimes, workers will have little say over their working conditions, wages, or hours. Unions are vital because they help to reduce this power imbalance and help set standards for a better quality of life for workers. Unions can help negotiate wages, benefits, working conditions, and health care for workers. Unions can help establish laws improving conditions for their members and through national and state legislation, also benefiting workers outside of unions. 

What is a collective bargaining agreement?

A collective bargaining agreement, otherwise known as a C.B.A., is a legal agreement negotiated between a labor union and an employer that sets terms and conditions of employment for employees who are members of the labor union. A CBA will often include sections related to wages, working hours, working conditions, health insurance benefits, and vacation time. Once the collective bargaining agreement is agreed upon, a company’s management cannot reduce wages or change health insurance benefits without first negotiating with union representatives. The C.B.A. states that employees are entitled to vote on changes made to their contract. If an employer does not abide by the agreed-upon terms, the union will enforce the contract through a grievance procedure and sometimes in arbitration.  

Can Employers Fire Workers for Unionizing? The right to collective bargaining, or the right to organize, is a fundamental right provided to workers in the private sector by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The labor relation laws in the private sector clearly state in Sec. 7 that employees “…shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” (NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 157). Workers cannot be fired, demoted, penalized, or disciplined in any way for engaging in any union activity.