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Time is Short to Excuse Mass Layoffs for Virus Without Notice

March 18, 2020, 6:45 PM

The 60-day window of time that federal law requires of many employers to provide notice of “mass layoffs” is testing new bounds as industries such as restaurants, retailers, and airlines prepare to shed workers as part of shutdowns caused by the novel coronavirus.

Apple Inc. and Nike Inc. are among a growing number of retailers that have closed stores, while some grocery chains have reduced operating hours and restaurants have shuttered or turned to “to-go” models. Airlines also have dramatically reduced traveling capacity, with Delta Air Lines and several European carriers announcing layoffs.

This article is one of the stories in this midday edition of First Move rounding up Bloomberg Law’s coverage of important coronavirus developments impacting companies and workplaces.


Shareholder Meetings Are Going Online to Avoid Spreading Virus
Shareholder meetings are going virtual as companies adapt their mandatory annual gatherings to the coronavirus.

Contract Labor, Services Complicate Corporate Response to Virus
Companies relying on contracted labor and services instead of employees may have less flexibility to deal with changes, slowdowns, and closures related to the new coronavirus, some management-side attorneys said.

Privacy Rules Eased for Hospitals During Coronavirus Emergency
Hospitals have some leeway to disclose patient information under the federal health privacy rules now that coronavirus is a national emergency.

Fast-Track Option for H-1B Visas Delayed Until End of June
Employers are unlikely to get their petitions for high-skilled guestworkers fast-tracked until June 29 at the earliest, when the option will resume in a two-phased approach.

Coronavirus-Related Home Offices Not Subject to OSHA Inspection
The flight of workers to improvised home offices because of the coronavirus shouldn’t prompt an onslaught of home inspections by federal safety regulators, according to longstanding OSHA policy.

N.Y. to Pass Law Requiring Paid Sick Leave Amid Virus Outbreak
New York state will require employers to offer paid sick leave and job protection for workers quarantined as a result of the new coronavirus, according to an agreement reached by legislative leaders.

Wall Street’s New Virtual Workplace May Outlast the Virus
In Hong Kong, bankers have learned to win stock offerings by video chat, and Morgan Stanley is hosting a virtual meeting for a thousand-plus attendees. At Swiss giant UBS Group AG, wealth management executives have realized trips to see clients weren’t as crucial as thought. In California, an investor in hedge funds said he’s pleasantly surprised by how much faster he can confer with them remotely.

Legal Operations Conference Canceled Due to Coronavirus
An annual assembly of law department leaders is the latest even to be canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.



McConnell Says Senate To Vote Today on House Virus Bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote Wednesday to pass the House legislation responding to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and immediately turn to a bigger stimulus package as the outbreak has the U.S. teetering on a recession.

White House Option for Virus Response Could Set Legal Precedent
President Donald Trump has suggested that he could designate the coronavirus pandemic a “major disaster,” a move that would open many more avenues of federal assistance, including funds for health care infrastructure. But it would come with a catch: A virus has never before been declared a natural disaster.



ANALYSIS: Key Principles for Employee Privacy During Pandemic
The new coronavirus outbreak has understandably prompted corporate assessments of data security safeguards when employees are working from home, but employers should not lose sight of privacy obligations related to employees’ health information.

ANALYSIS: Emerging Trends in Courts’ Reactions to Coronavirus
As more federal and state courts issue notices, standing orders, and the like to address who may come to court, who should stay home, and what matters will proceed and in what form, there are some trends starting to emerge.


INSIGHT: Don’t Fear the Math—Analyzing Layoffs, Plant Closings Under the WARN Act
Complying with the federal WARN Act, a layoff or shutdown notification law, and its state counterparts is more than just crunching numbers, writes McDermott Will & Emery’s Kate De La Cruz. She examines five issues for companies to consider to ensure compliance.

INSIGHT: Coronavirus Challenges Facing Commercial Property Owners
Commercial property owners are impacted by the new coronavirus in unprecedented ways, such as supply and demand shocks, quarantines, and event cancellations. Thompson Hine’s Patrick Abell discusses key issues, including public safety, insurance coverage, tenant relationships, and myriad federal, state, and local regulations.

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To contact the reporter on this story: John Nancarrow in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at