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Finished with Furloughs: Analyzing Legal Risks When Employers Ask Employees to Return to Work

Finished with Furloughs: Analyzing Legal Risks When Employers Ask Employees to Return to Work

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Finished with Furloughs: Analyzing Legal Risks When Employers Ask Employees to Return to Work

Live Webinar: Tuesday, October 13, 2020

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern / 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific


WEBINAR SNAPSHOT: Reopening the workplace in the wake of COVID-19 is complicated. Initially, the focus was on how to prepare the workplace for workers to return safely. Now employers are faced with much more difficult issues including reductions in force; returning furloughed workers in stages; implementing pay cuts; and managing a long-term remote workforce.


As employers begin calling back employees after the initial COVID-19 spike, they are confronting a host of legal and practical challenges. Importantly, many workplaces have started phased re-openings in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. As employers prepare to return to this new phase of operations, however, they likely face a number of practical and legal challenges they haven’t previously encountered. One such hurdle is returning furloughed employees to the workplace.

Workforce reductions, pay cuts, and/or job restructuring are inevitable in most companies dealing with reinstating employees after a furlough. Reopening the workplace raises numerous and varied issues about workplace laws and employers have one chance to reopen the correct way. Attention to detail, a comprehensive review of policies and procedures, and informed decision making are critical to a successful workplace relaunch.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Examine the legal risks involved with returning to a pre-pandemic business level versus reinstating some employees and terminating others.
  • Determine objective, business-related, skill-based, and nondiscriminatory criteria for deciding which employees should return to work and when.
  • Learn the legal pitfalls that can occur when there are changes to returning employees’ pay and benefits.
  • Understand the ins and outs of legally permissible health questions and screenings when reinstating employees.
  • Develop an effective method to respond to employees who refuse to return to work due to safety concerns.

About Your Presenters

Consuela PintoConsuela Pinto of Fortney Scott

Consuela Pinto is a Shareholder at FortneyScott where she advises clients on the full range of equal employment opportunity laws with a particular focus on pay equity, compliance with workplace laws and regulations, federal government investigations, pattern and practice systemic claims, and compliance with federal contractors’ affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations.  Her extensive experience and expertise in the employment field is the result of practicing in both the private and government sectors for more than twenty-five years.

Prior to joining FortneyScott, Ms. Pinto was the Deputy Associate Solicitor in the Civil Rights and Labor Management Division at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Office of the Solicitor.  In this position, Ms. Pinto advised DOL agencies on a wide range of regulatory, policy, and enforcement issues impacting. One of her key practice areas was advising the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs on enforcement matters related to federal contractors’ equal employment opportunity obligations.

John Clifford John Clifford of Fortney Scott

John Clifford is an Associate at FortneyScott.  He assists clients with a variety of workplace-related matters, including employment discrimination, compensation and leave issues, and other employment matters that confront employers each day.

Mr. Clifford’s practice focuses on guiding employers in their efforts to maintain policies and practices that are compliant with local and federal law, in particular counseling federal contractors regarding their affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations, and advising in matters involving the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Mr. Clifford has experience representing clients in litigation before federal and state courts, and administrative agencies including the EEOC and the Office of Compliance.  He has defended employers against claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, as well as wage and hour and breach of contract claims, and has assisted employers seeking to protect their business interests through the enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation covenants