On July 13, 2020, three prominent whistleblower law regulators spoke at PLI’s Corporate Whistleblowing in the Coronavirus Era 2020, which was co-chaired by Orrick partners Mike Delikat and Renee Phillips. With the standard disclaimer that their comments and opinions were their own and not the official comments of their respective agencies, each spoke about their agencies’ whistleblower program’s current progress, challenges, and priorities. READ MORE
He also is the founder of the firm’s Whistleblower Task Force. He previously served as the Managing Director of Orrick’s Litigation Division.
Under Mike's leadership, Orrick’s Employment Law & Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California for the fourth consecutive year by The Recorder, the premier source for legal news, in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters. The practice group has also been chosen as one of the top national employment law practices by Law 360. Chambers USA and Chambers Global has ranked him in Band 1 since it began publishing its rankings, noting he is a "giant of the employment bar, widely regard as an expert in whistleblowing matters and sex harassment claims","sought out by premier clients to handle high-stakes employment litigation and investigations," and "a very persuasive advocate who knows the law inside out and is able to get to the heart of the issue very quickly."
He represents a broad range of major corporations and other institutions including law firms in all facets of labor and employment law. Mike has an active trial, arbitration and appellate practice and handles a number of high-visibility class action and impact cases.
Posts by: Mike Delikat
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act” (Public Law 116-136)) allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax from March 27, 2020 (the date of its enactment) through December 31, 2020, that they otherwise would be responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. READ MORE
On June 11, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) again updated its compendium FAQs on COVID-19 and the workplace. The latest revisions provide additional guidance on non-discrimination obligations under various federal non-discrimination laws as employees return to work. We previously blogged about the agency’s FAQ guidance here. READ MORE
On May 26, 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released its anxiously awaited Interim Guidelines for COVID-19 Antibody Testing (the “Guidelines”). As set forth in further detail below, the Guidelines make clear that COVID-19 antibody testing should not be used to make decisions about returning employees to the workplace.
While the Guidelines detail some encouraging data developed from early studies on antibody testing, several concerns remain. On the encouraging side, the CDC states in the Guidelines that “nearly all immune competent individuals” will develop an immune response following infection with COVID-19 and recurrence of COVID-19 illness “appears to be very uncommon,” suggesting that COVID-19 antibodies may confer at least some short-term immunity. Consistent with this observation, the Guidelines further note that in experiments involving primates, infection and subsequent development of antibodies resulted in protection from reinfection. Additionally, the Guidelines note that antibody development in humans correlates with a marked decrease in viral load in the respiratory tract. According to the CDC, taken together, these observations suggest that the presence of antibodies may decrease a person’s infectiousness and offer some level of protection from reinfection. However, the Guidelines make clear that definitive data are lacking and it remains uncertain whether individuals with antibodies are protected against reinfection with COVID-19, and if so, the duration of that protection and what concentration of antibodies is needed to confer protection.
In addition to these issues, the CDC raises several other concerns in the Guidelines regarding antibody testing. The Guidelines note that some antibody tests can lead to false positive results, when they react with the presence of antibodies to other coronaviruses like the common cold. Moreover, the CDC cautions that certain individuals may not develop detectable antibodies even after infection while others’ levels could wane over time to be undetectable. The timing of antibody tests can affect the result as well; as the CDC notes, the most useful antibodies for assessing antibody response are not present early in infection, and only become detectable 1-3 weeks after symptom onset. Thus, antibody test results may not definitively indicate the presence or absence of current or previous COVID-19 infection.
In light of the continuing uncertainty regarding these issues, the CDC affirmatively states that COVID-19 antibody testing results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” The CDC specifically notes that although certain testing can have “high positive predictive value” indicating at least some degree of immunity, “until the durability and duration of immunity is established, it cannot be assumed that individuals with truly positive antibody test results are protected from future infection.” In addition to stating that employers should not use antibody testing to determine eligibility to return to the workplace, the CDC also recommends against using antibody testing to make decisions about admitting individuals to other congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities.
Finally, the CDC states that its Guidelines do not affect existing guidance from public health authorities and other governmental agencies on maintaining social distancing and using PPE in the workplace. The CDC notes that healthcare workers and first responders should continue to use PPE even if they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Further, while those who test positive for antibodies and do not have a recent history of “a COVID-19 compatible illness” have a low likelihood of active infection, they should still follow general recommendations to prevent the spread of infection.
While this area is rapidly evolving, employers now have affirmative guidance from the CDC that antibody testing should not be used to make decisions about bringing employees back to work. Since the EEOC has largely deferred to the CDC on this issue, employers who condition an employee’s return to work on a positive test for antibodies may be subject to claims by both the individual and the EEOC.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently updated their guidance relating to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, addressing several additional FAQ in response to inquiries from the public. In the updated guidance, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” the EEOC expands on its previous publication issued in March and based on guidance it issued in response to the H1N1 outbreak in March 2009. READ MORE
The New York State Department of Labor (“NYS DOL”) has launched a new webpage dedicated to alerting workers regarding COVID-19 related employment protections and allowing them to submit a complaint online by simply clicking the “File a Complaint” link. The new webpage encourages workers to file a complaint with the NYS DOL if their employers violate any provisions of the state’s new law providing sick leave, paid family leave and disability benefits to employees impacted by mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, including any violations of Governor Cuomo’s recent Executive Order mandating all non-essential workers to stay home. These violations include being forced to perform work at an employer’s worksite if the employer is a non-essential business or being threatened if an employee does not work at a place other than the employee’s home. It should be noted that the NYS DOL appears to be creating the right to file a complaint on a number of issues that are not explicitly addressed within the legislation or guidance regarding the legislation and it remains to be seen whether the NYS DOL has authority to pursue alleged violations of the legislation for the reasons described below. READ MORE
In what he described as the “most drastic action” he can take, New York Governor Cuomo has ordered all non-essential workers to stay home, in his latest Executive Order 202.08 issued yesterday afternoon. As we reported, Governor Cuomo had previously ordered businesses to reduce their in-person workforces at any work locations by 75%, unless they qualify as an “essential business.” Now, that number has been expanded to New York’s entire non-essential workforce. READ MORE
Update: At approximately 11:00 a.m. EST, Governor Cuomo announced that 100% of the non-essential NY workforce must now stay home. This directive is expected to take effect on Sunday evening March 22. Gov. Cuomo is expected to issue a new Executive Order regarding this directive shortly. Please check back here for updates. READ MORE
As bars, restaurants, theatres, sporting and entertainment events, gyms, casinos, movie theatres, and other establishments shutter globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic many employers have been forced to consider immediate layoffs of their employees around the world in response to their businesses having been essentially shut down. Other employers, faced with the possibility of a looming global recession, are preparing for potential future international layoffs. Significant pitfalls await employers conducting layoffs (temporary or permanent) outside of the U.S., which are heavily regulated by law, including mandatory severance payments, notice periods and cumbersome processes. We discuss some of these pitfalls for selected countries outside the U.S. including Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain and the UK below and discuss some of the early responses by countries like Spain and Germany to create exceptions to the normal requirements. READ MORE