The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

August Legislative Policy Roundup: Update for Higher Ed HR

by CUPA-HR

Though August is typically a quiet time in Washington, D.C., legislative activity during the first half of the month remained steady in preparation for a busy fall. To keep members updated on what to expect, the CUPA-HR government relations team pulled together a summary of recent actions that will continue to take shape after Congress returns from the August recess, including DOL and NLRB nominations, infrastructure bills, and the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act.

OSHA Updates Guidance to Help Employers Protect Workers from COVID-19

by CUPA-HR

On August 13, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated guidance regarding workplace COVID-19 precautions, incorporating, among other things, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s July 27 guidance for fully vaccinated people.

HR and the Courts

by CUPA-HR

CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard highlights the rise in OSHA’s workplace safety inspections, the differing positions union leaders have taken regarding employer-mandated vaccine policies, recent rulings around a law professor and students challenging each of their institutions’ vaccine mandates, and a student-athlete Title IX retaliation claim.

Navigating Compliance With a Multi-State Workforce

by Lakyn Whaley

Over the last year and a half, the rapid implementation and general success of remote work has brought about both new opportunities and new challenges. In particular, the challenges of navigating multi-state compliance issues can be tricky. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, here are three key points to get you started on the right path.

CUPA-HR Leads Higher Ed Letter on I-9 Flexibility Guidance

by CUPA-HR

On August 9, CUPA-HR and 12 other higher education associations sent a letter to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur M. Jaddou requesting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extend and amend its previously announced flexibilities on Form I-9 compliance requirements. The guidance, which has been extended continuously since March 2020 and was amended on April 1, 2021, permits remote inspection of Form I-9 documents in situations where employees work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions.

Biden Announces COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for All Federal Employees and Certain Federal Contractors

by CUPA-HR

On Thursday July 29, President Biden announced the release of preliminary guidelines for a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all federal employees. This decision is Biden’s most recent effort to promote vaccination nationwide and combat the spread of the Delta variant. Every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.

Department of Education Issues Q&A on Title IX Regulations

by CUPA-HR

On July 20, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a questions-and-answers (Q&A) resource explaining how OCR interprets schools’ obligations under the 2020 amendments to the Title IX regulation. According to a press release from OCR, “the Q&A clarifies how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations under the 2020 amendments” and includes an appendix, which “responds to schools’ requests for examples of Title IX procedures that may be adaptable to their own circumstances and helpful in implementing the 2020 amendments.”

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing for Biden Administration’s Labor Nominees

by CUPA-HR

On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a nomination hearing on David Weil to serve as the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL), as well as Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to serve as members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The hearing displayed the partisan nature of the nominations, with Democrats applauding the nominees for their support for workers, and Republicans expressing concern with the nominees’ ability to act as neutral arbiters of the law.

HR and the Courts

by CUPA-HR

CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard highlights the Supreme Court ruling on educational benefits for student-athletes; a pending Supreme Court ruling on emotional distress damages for victims of disability discrimination; a First Amendment retaliatory discharge claim related to a racial slur posted on Facebook; the EEOC’s opposition to a religious class action challenging federal LGBT rights; and more.

Maintaining Culture and Connection For Remote Employees

by CUPA-HR

Higher ed leaders worked tirelessly last year to facilitate employee transitions to remote work. Now that many employees are firmly rooted in their remote work routine (and in some cases hesitant or unable to return to campus), what was previously a short-term solution is becoming a permanent option at many institutions, and the next challenge for higher ed leaders will be maintaining institutional culture and fostering connection in that new hybrid environment. Here’s what some of your higher ed HR peers are saying about how to maintain — and even improve — workplace culture.