Employers Await Supreme Court Ruling

On Jan. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the vaccine-or-testing mandate issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a separate mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

The court’s ruling will determine whether the mandates can be implemented and enforced while facing legal challenges in lower courts. SHRM External Affairs will continue to monitor the court’s decision to provide SHRM members with timely updates. 

The A-Team First-Word Alert Webcast providing insight on the OSHA mandate and the legal landscape is available on demand. A. Scott Hecker, senior counsel at Seyfarth Shaw and an expert on federal enforcement practices and workplace safety, discussed the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) employers would need to follow under the OSHA mandate. 

SHRM released survey results last month that show more than half (51 percent) of employers are waiting to see how current legal challenges unfold before deciding on a vaccination policy. Most respondents to SHRM’s survey—75 percent—said they are not likely to require vaccines or testing if the mandate is permanently struck down by the courts. 

For more information on the ETS, including guidelines for its implementation, visit SHRM’s COVID-19 vaccination resources center

SHRM Research: Most Employers Say They Can Endure Omicron

On Jan. 5, SHRM released the results of a pulse survey of executives that shows most of those business leaders—87 percent—believe their organization would be able to endure an outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Eighty-six percent of the 110 executives polled by SHRM in December agreed that existing policies and procedures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace gave them confidence as omicron began spreading across the U.S.

At the same time, many executives are worried about impacts to their business, with 67 percent saying they were very or extremely concerned about their organization’s ability to keep employees and customers safe due to omicron.

Sixty-five percent of executives said they were very or extremely concerned about their organization’s ability to retain employees because of omicron, and 62 percent of executives said they were very or extremely concerned about their ability to remain productive.

Tracking EEOC Guidance, COVID-19, and Vaccine Guidance

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance on Dec. 14, adding a new section to clarify under what circumstances COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. 

EEOC’s new questions and answers focus broadly on COVID-19 and the definition of disability under Title I of the ADA and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which both address employment discrimination. The updates also provide examples illustrating how an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a post-COVID-19 condition could be considered to have a disability under the laws the EEOC enforces. 

EEOC has updated its guidance on employment and COVID-19 approximately 20 times throughout the pandemic, and SHRM is keeping members up-to-date on the latest developments.

SHRM has also mobilized to provide helpful resources to HR professionals and business leaders following the publication of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for employers with 100 or more workers.

Right now, the mandate is held up in the courts and cannot be enforced, but we are watching closely as it makes its way through the legal process. We are also engaging with employers to hear their concerns and share those concerns with policymakers.

We will stay vigilant to ensure that any final rule will not overly burden employers. For more information on the ETS, including guidelines for its implementation, visit SHRM’s COVID-19 vaccination resource center.

WPC 2022 Convenes Leading Policy Experts: Register Today!

SHRM’s Workplace Policy Conference (WPC) 2022, taking place in Washington, D.C., from March 27 – 29, is the premier workplace policy conference to hear the latest workplace policy updates from decision-makers.

Register today and explore the outstanding lineup being assembled for WPC 2022, including:

Jocelyn Samuels, Vice Chair, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 
Before joining the EEOC in 2020, Samuels served as executive director and Roberta A. Conroy Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, focusing on legal and social science research on issues related to sexual and gender minorities, and director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. She will update attendees on EEOC priorities for 2022. 

Andrea R. Lucas, Commissioner, EEOC 
Lucas has over a decade of labor and employment law experience, having served as a member of a labor, employment and litigation practice group at a law firm in Washington, D.C. She is committed to increasing compliance with and ensuring enforcement of all laws within the EEOC’s jurisdiction. 

Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor 
Williams is the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s fourth assistant secretary, the first since 2015 and the highest-ranking member of the Biden administration to publicly identify as a person with a disability. Williams will provide conference attendees insight into the role of the public and private sectors in increasing and expanding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Phyllis Coven, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
Coven serves as the seventh Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) ombudsman and brings more than two decades of experience working for both the federal government and international organizations and leading a wide range of immigration initiatives. She will update conference attendees on the efforts of the CIS Ombudsman Office to eliminate case processing backlogs and scale the office’s capacity to serve customers.

Last month, SHRM announced National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member Gwynne Wilcox, the first Black woman to serve on the NLRB since its inception in 1935, will be at WPC to discuss how the NLRB enforces labor law.

National Foundation for Women Legislators Executive Director Jody Thomas and National Conference of State Legislatures Executive Director Tim Storey will also lead a session titled “Effecting Change from Within: How Local and State Advocacy Can Lead to Positive Changes Everywhere.” Stay tuned for more WPC updates in the weeks ahead.

SHRM Submits Comment on Remote I-9 Document Examination

On Dec. 27, SHRM submitted a comment in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Request for Public Input on Remote Document Examination for Form I-9 and Employment Eligibility Verification

Among the recommendations submitted, SHRM stressed the importance of a permanent framework for remote I-9 preparation, highlighting the experiences of SHRM members who took advantage of the DHS I-9 flexibility rules as the burdens and hazards of in-person preparation grew during the pandemic.

The full SHRM comment submission is available at

Texas Court Formally Strikes Down Paid-Leave Law

On Dec. 22, the District Court in Travis County, Texas, issued a final judgment and order of permanent injunction in the case of Texas Association of Business v. City of Austin, a yearslong challenge of the city’s law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. 

The plaintiffs, which included SHRM and its Texas affiliates, argued the law violated the Texas Minimum Wage Act’s provision barring municipalities from regulating private sector employees’ wages.

While courts halted the ordinance in 2018, the city of Austin continued appealing the ruling up to the Texas Supreme Court. Similar paid leave initiatives in San Antonio and Dallas were also scrapped due to the Austin ruling.

Businesses Must Report Workforce Race, Sex Data by May

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is requiring companies with more than 100 workers to submit data on their employees’ race, sex, ethnicity and job groups. 

The employees’ salary, wages and compensation will not be included in the reports. Companies will be responsible for submitting this data by a tentative date of May 17. The Biden administration believes that this is a positive step toward closing the racial and gender wage gaps. 

Sinema, Haggerty Introduce Chance to Compete Act

The Chance to Compete Act was introduced last month by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., with original co-sponsors Sens. Bill Haggerty, R-Tenn., and James Lankford, R-Okla., in an effort to improve the federal hiring process.

The bill seeks to facilitate the development of candidate pools using candidate assessments that closely align with the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies necessary for on-the-job success. 

In a letter to Sens. Sinema and Haggerty, SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens said the bill “represents an important step in the right direction by facilitating the implementation of HR best practices by federal agencies.”

Share Your Views with Congress on the Build Back Better Act

The External Affairs team continues to monitor the Build Back Better legislation, which contains provisions that would significantly affect SHRM members. Before it comes up for consideration in the Senate, contact your senators online or text SHRM to 52886 to share your concerns about the bill.

This legislation, if passed in its current form, would create a federal leave program that is misaligned with the Family and Medical Leave Act and out of touch with the diversity of this country’s workplaces. Additionally, there are provisions that would increase health care costs, upset the balance of labor-management relations and impose exorbitant civil liabilities on employers of all sizes. 

In response to these provisions, SHRM called on Congress to find more balance by acknowledging 1) that meeting the needs of our country’s workplaces requires flexibility and 2) that employers are committed to meeting the economic, medical and personal needs of their employees in a manner that also meets the needs of the business.

IRS Issues New Guidance on Employee Retention Credit

The IRS issued new guidance for employers regarding the retroactive termination of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). 

The guidance addresses employers who have received an advance payment of the ERC or reduced employment tax deposits in anticipation of the tax credit within the fourth quarter for wages paid after Sept. 30, 2021. 

The IRS also detailed how the rules apply to recovery startup businesses during the fourth quarter of 2021.

A-Team Featured in HR Professionals Magazine

SHRM’s Advocacy Team is the subject of a feature article by SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens in the latest edition of HR Professionals Magazine

The article, “Making SHRM Voices Heard: The A-Team Takes the Field,” quotes several A-Team members and External Affairs staff

“It’s so rewarding to work with this highly motivated and passionate group of SHRM members,” said Sean McIntosh, SHRM senior specialist for member advocacy.

The article also details recent SHRM advocacy success stories. For example, in 2021, A-Team members sent 5,500 letters to Congress about key workplace policy issues and met in person and virtually with lawmakers from every state.

Are you a member of SHRM’s A-Team? Join today online or text ATEAM to 52886.

SHRM Member Advocacy Spotlight

SHRM wants to showcase your advocacy experiences and how you are championing change to advance smart workplace policies. As an advocate for the HR profession, you have a unique and valuable perspective on the changing world of work and how advocacy can make an impact with policymakers and in your workplace. Complete this short survey

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Policy, Not Politics Apparel and Accessories Available at SHRMStore

SHRM has an unwavering commitment to focus on policy, not politics. We believe in our ability to find consensus when we bring all sides to the table for critical discussions of issues impacting work, workers and workplaces.

Together, we are championing policies that will help organizations and people thrive to create better workplaces and a better world.

Showcase your commitment to Policy, Not Politics, with a brand-new line of apparel and merchandise available for order at the SHRMStore. Get FREE SHIPPING on apparel and accessories when you shop at the SHRMStore through May 31.

Advancing Workplace Issues in 2021

SHRM is proud to be working with several organizations to highlight workplace issues in 2021. They include Fratelli Group, NAICU, Palladian Hill Strategies, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Viatris.

As the Voice of All Things Work, SHRM pursues nonpartisan public policy to promote flexible, inclusive and equitable workplaces that help business thrive as talent is tapped, trained and empowered to reach its full potential. Policy not politics.

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