Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine—and the related sanctions against Russia— impacts your company’s U.S. employees. How, you ask?
First, I don’t need to belabor this point, but limiting Ukrainian and Russian trade puts stress on supply chains, leading to additional U.S. food and other shortages and adding fuel to the inflation fire. Employers might have to consider suspending projects or reducing production, leading to furloughs or layoffs. If the company’s thinking about a layoff of more than a few dozen people, check the federal WARN Act as well as any WARN Act in the states where employees are working for notice requirements, which could be months in advance.
If they aren’t planning to lay off workers, employers should be sensitive to the effects of the rising cost of living – consider small raises for valuable employees. Also, if pay issues become too important in the workforce overall, keep in mind that companies might have to fight union campaigns.
On the immigration front, over two million people have fled Ukraine; as of the time I’m writing this, many are expected to apply to come to the U.S. Moreover, on March 3, the Department of Homeland Security granted what’s called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. because of “ongoing armed conflict” and “extraordinary and temporary conditions.” Those eligible for TPS must have continuously resided in the U.S. since March 1, 2022, or earlier. The TPS will last 18 months, and people applying for TPS may also apply for a document allowing them to work in the U.S. for the duration of their TPS status. This could help with labor shortage issues if companies are still hiring.
Finally, employers should be sensitive to the emotional impact of the situation. It might not be easy for employees who see colleagues, friends, and their families affected by the war. They might even need access to mental health care. Don’t forget that if the company is subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or similar state statutes, military family leave provisions entitle eligible employees to take FMLA leave for any “qualifying exigency” arising from the foreign deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with the Armed Forces. This includes leave to arrange for departures of their loved one.
Uncharted territory might lead to legal mistakes on top of all the other problems right now. Make sure to think through your personnel decisions.
ABOUT KATHERINE WITHERSPOON FRY
For over 25 years, Katherine has provided her clients with robust representation in matters of employment and related business law. Katherine represents and counsels employers and executives in all facets of the employment relationship, including hiring, termination, discrimination, non-competition, Fair Labor Standards Act matters, issues regarding Family and Medical Leave and other leaves, whistleblowers’ complaints, and regulatory matters. As a litigator, she is well aware of the nuances of law necessary to draft effective restrictive covenants, severance agreements, and employment contracts. Along with her over 250 colleagues, she represents companies and non-profit organizations of all sizes. She has defended companies under investigation by both U.S. and state Departments of Labor and handled multiple matters before the EEOC.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 17 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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