The federal Department of Labor (DOL) continues to update its Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) FAQ leading up to the April 1, 2020 implementation. Over the past week, the DOL has supplemented the FFCRA FAQ several times to provide guidance and clarifications concerning lingering questions. Some of the recent clarifications we find helpful are below.

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As people everywhere struggle to adjust to the rapid changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the financial impact on businesses and employees has been a primary concern.  Employees are facing reduced work hours and layoffs as businesses scale back or close. At the same time, employees are dealing with the reality of a serious health threat to themselves and family members.  The scale of disruption to the normal functioning of businesses and to people’s lives is unprecedented.

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On September 5, 2017, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the Superior Court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the employer in a case involving the thorny issue of whether an extended leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation. Thomson v. Department of Social Services, 176 Conn. App. 122, AC 38851. Both the Superior Court and the Appellate Court rejected the employee’s claim that her employer had failed to accommodate her disability in terminating her employment while on extended leave after she had exhausted FMLA leave. This decision is an important victory for employers. It makes a strong statement that employers need not grant open-ended leaves of absence under state law. On the facts presented, the court concluded that the employee was not entitled to proceed to trial. Summary judgment decisions in the employer’s favor in state court are rare. Rarer still is the affirmation of the Appellate Court on an issue that vexes human resources departments around the state.
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