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Take a look at Amy’s recent TV appearances where she discusses relevant legal topics for a wide audience!

COVID Vaccine Mandate: Supreme Court Weighs Rules for Businesses, Health Care. FOX 29 News, 1/7/22

ANNOUNCER 1

The Supreme Court spent the day hearing arguments on whether or not the Biden administration can enforce vaccine mandates, masking, and weekly testing. Right now, it’s for large private companies and places that receive federal funding, and it’s been a controversial topic. Here to talk about it with us right now is attorney Amy E. Feldman. Amy, thanks for joining us. It seems like the Supreme Court heard this case in record time. I guess they had to, right? 

FELDMAN

Absolutely. Yeah. What had happened was when the – when OSHA had originally put out this mandate, there were lawsuits immediately across the country. And then courts hearing it came to different conclusions and even appeals courts were coming to different conclusions. So the Supreme Court took the case and put it right to the top of its docket. 

ANNOUNCER 2

And today we heard those arguments, Amy, oral arguments. Of course, we can’t see that no fa- no cameras in federal court. Can you get a sense of how they’ll decide? Reports there must be some skepticism on the high courts with these mandates. 

FELDMAN

Right. So you can’t see it. You’re right, Chris, but you can hear the arguments and what you are trying to do when you’re listening to them is sort of glean from the tea leaves what is actually going through the justices’ minds. And in some cases it was very clear. Justice Kagan, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Breyer basically said, “I don’t know why this mandate hasn’t already been rolled out. Every minute we waste, you know, not allowing it is another minute the people are getting COVID at the workplace.” They were very clear that they’re in favor of it. But among the conservative justices, there seemed to be a split, interestingly. So Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kavanaugh, Justice Barrett seemed to suggest that while OSHA might have the authority to make a mandate about vaccines at the workplace, something like this was just too broad, that all employers with more than a hundred employees would have to impose it. They suggested that it, you know, maybe at meatpacking plants where people are standing shoulder to shoulder, or at medical facilities, they might be able to, but this might be too broad as it’s written, or that’s what they suggested. And then Justice Alito was pretty clear and will likely be joined by Justices Thomas and – and – and it’s possible that what they’re going to say is is, you know, look, what you’ve done here is you have created a mandate that doesn’t just affect workers, you’re OSHA, you’re the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. What you’ve done is created a mandate that takes care of the whole worker. Once you’re vaccinated, you’re vaccinated throughout your whole life, not just the hours that you’re at the office. And they were really questioning, Justice Alito in particular, do you have the right? Does OSHA have the right to do that? So, you know, it sort of remains to be seen who’s going to fall on what side of this argument. 

ANNOUNCER 1

And obviously, it’s controversial. A lot of people want, you know, have an opinion on this. So in the end, what do you think? 

FELDMAN

You know, I have to say that I’ve spoken with a lot of my colleagues who suggest, who think that it’s likely that this mandate, at least as written, is going to get struck down. I have to say I’m not so sure. I think it might be cut back and/or they might send OSHA back to make, you know, mandates that are sort of a little more narrowly tailored. But I’m not certain that it is going to be eliminated, and I think that companies are probably best off at least coming up with contingent plans because if it’s allowed to stand, companies have to figure out a way to make sure that either they have an employee’s vaccine card or that they’ve got a way to make sure that unvaccinated employees are getting tested twice a week and are masked while they’re at the office. So I don’t think it’s premature to start creating that plan in the event that it’s not struck down. 

ANNOUNCER 1

Exactly. All right, attorney Amy E. Feldman, thank you so much for joining us. 

FELDMAN

Thank you. 

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on OSHA’s COVID vaccine mandate.  Thank you, FOX 29 News for having me on to discuss it!  You can watch this video and more on FOX 29’s website.

COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Will Head Head to Supreme Court Friday.  Good Day Philadelphia 1/4/22

JERRICK

Everybody here, New Year, new rules, there are several new laws in place and coming in the next few days, some more laws may be in place. I’m talking basically about the vaccine mandates. Hi, Amy Feldman, attorney. 

FELDMAN

Hi, Mike, how are you? 

JERRICK

Good. Good, good. So when we heard vaccine mandates, people started – there was big blowback. You know, judges saying, “no, not so fast here.” People want to get back to work. We’ve talked about the schools. Let’s talk about people trying to get back to work. There may be a vaccine mandate staring them in the face. So who’s going to decide? Has this made it all the way to the Supreme Court? 

FELDMAN

It will on Friday. Exactly. It went to different courts across the country, which came out differently. And because there was a split among the different circuits that heard the appeals, the Supreme Court now has agreed to hear it on the quickest time frame ever. They’re going to hear the case on Friday. They won’t have a decision, probably on that date, although you’ll get some clues about where they’re thinking it’ll go based on the questions that they will ask of the attorneys on both sides. And then once they render their decision, we will know whether employers with 100 or more employees are going to have to force a vaccine or require weekly testing. Remains to be seen. It’s a biggie. 

JERRICK

Yeah, man, this is really fast moving by a Supreme Court. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them move this fast, but it’s so important because we’re trying to get people back to work. What are you hearing? Where do you think this is going to go? I mean, it’s a pretty conservative court. 

FELDMAN

It is a conservative court, but it has been one that so far, I mean, when we look at the things that OSHA has done in the past under their emergency powers, like not allowing evictions, the Supreme Court actually allowed that eviction stay to remain in place, although they did say that they weren’t likely to continue it. I mean, they were sort of indicating that they were at the end of their rope on that one. So there – there is a question about it, but I don’t know that this is just going to be a slam dunk, no vaccine mandate from the Supreme Court.

JERRICK

Okay. So, if the Supreme Court sides with the folks that want a vaccine mandate, what does that mean for if I go to work and I have, I work for a company that has 100 employees. 

FELDMAN

Right.  So –

JERRICK

Gotta get vaxed.

Feldman

That – yeah, that’s exactly right. They’re not making it easy for you. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has said that as a matter of occupational health, you have to if you are an employer, enforce these rules that say that all of your employees must be vaccinated unless they have an exemption. And if there is some exemption granted, then you have to require that people are going to get tested every week at their own expense, by the way, and on their own time. 

JERRICK

All eyes on the Supreme Court Friday. We won’t get the decision until next week. Amy, thanks.

FELDMAN

Thank you.

JERRICK

We got a quick break. 

Thanks to Good Day Philadelphia for having me on to discuss the Supreme Court’s hearing on the OSHA Vaccine Mandate!  You can watch this interview and more on the FOX 29 website!

Elements Festival Attendees File Class Action Lawsuit.  FOX 29 News, 12/09/21

Elements Festival Attendees File Class Action Lawsuit

JERRICK

Sounds like Woodstock, you know, when it rained?  Hi, Amy.

HOLLEY

So, we have attorney Amy E. Feldman joining us here in the studio.  Good morning to you.

FELDMAN

Good morning!

HOLLEY

So now it’s a class action lawsuit.  The question is, do they have a case?  Do you think they’ll be able to win this one?

FELDMAN

I don’t actually think it’s ever gonna get to court.  I think this one’s gonna settle.  They’ve already said that, you know, they apologized and they even made an offer, which was you could get 33% off of next year’s tickets, so –

JERRICK

No thank you.

FELDMAN

Right?  If you had to wait ten hours to get in and so-called sixteen hours for a port-a-potty, I don’t really see anybody taking them up on that offer.

HOLLEY AND JERRICK

No.

FELDMAN

Their counteroffer was, yeah, here’s a class action lawsuit, so that one’s already failed.

JERRICK

I suppose they should have canceled it, because we knew Ida was coming.

FELDMAN

Right, but it wasn’t – you know, Ida happened before the festival.

JERRICK

Yeah.

FELDMAN

So, what you see here is the aftermath of Ida, and that’s one of their claims, which is they should have had enough time or notice to clean the parking lot, right?  I mean, it was a muddy mess according to the lawsuit, and the camping was disgusting, the place was disgusting, there was not enough time for people to get in and see the concert.  In other words, you know, the thing about this lawsuit is, nobody is expecting that a festival is going to be like, accommodations that would be suitable for the Queen of England right?

HOLLEY AND JERRICK

True.

FELDMAN

And no matter how many girls in white bikinis we just saw in that commercial, that’s not what you’re getting.  And I think most reasonable festival-goers know it’s gonna be disgusting, right?

JERRICK

What are they asking for?

FELDMAN

So, here’s what they’re asking.  What they’re saying – well, they’re asking for money.

JERRICK

Money back.

FELDMAN

Um, right. And, of course, with any class action lawsuit, you know the lawyers are gonna get their share of that.  But the idea is, you know, you gotta be better prepared for this.  If you know that you’re in the middle of COVID, you need to follow the protocols that you’ve promised.  You need to make sure you have enough staff there.  People waited ten hours and largely missed that first whole day of the festival on Friday.  So the question isn’t, “how beautiful was this experience?” The question was, “what did you promise I was gonna get and then what did you deliver?”

HOLLEY

But can they come back and say, “hey, we literally had a hurricane come through, it’s an extenuating circumstance.  What were we – you know, it’s an outdoor location, of course it’s gonna be different once a hurricane comes through.”

FELDMAN

Well, I think that people would understand if the hurricane blew through in the middle of it.  Like, they’re trying to get it in, and then this hurricane –

JERRICK

– yeah, before, but –

FELDMAN

– this happened –

HOLLEY

But it takes a lot to clean up after a hurricane, though –

FELDMAN

So then you make all of the precautions you need to.  Which is, you hire thousands of people to clean it up, or if you can’t clean it up – and it’s hard to say how a festival ground after a hurricane would be able to be cleaned up –

HOLLEY

Right.

FELDMAN

– Then you postpone it.  And I understand that’s a logistical nightmare that’s gonna cost them a lot of money, but, you know, say what you will about lawyers, the idea that you gotta factor in the cost of the lawsuit if it does go south is gonna make them pay more money upfront the next time to make sure they’ve taken precautions.

HOLLEY

But where’s the line, though?

JERRICK

Yeah.

HOLLEY

Because we’ve had festivals and we’ve had some situations recently, though.  But how do you know, or who’s to say that if you go and you’re like “hey, this is not what I thought it would be, let me go ahead and sue them.” How do we know that this won’t just keep happening because you didn’t get the level of experience – now, granted, this is obviously a different situation, but where’s the line?

FELDMAN

Right.  Right.  So the line is, they’re arguing fraud.  That, first of all, you promised acts that never even showed up.  Second of all, you promised that there would be COVID protocols that did not happen.  Third of all, that you would have enough staff to be able to get us into the festival.  Then we can worry about how disgusting the conditions are once we get there.  But the idea is that it’s not so much that you’re gonna get a perfect experience.  You should know that.  And, you know, there is something to be said about the fact that anybody can sue at any time for anything.

JERRICK

And another thing, Amy E. Feldman, Mark Geragos’s law firm is representing the people that are suing.  I mean, my God, think of the high-profile cases he’s covered.  Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, he goes on and on and on and on.  There he is.

FELDMAN

Right.  There he is, right?  So you know that if he’s put his name on this, this is not a case that he thinks is a nothing case, because he doesn’t have to take those cases.  So this is a – I think this is a legit case.  I just don’t think it’s ever gonna get to court because they’ll settle.  

HOLLEY

Well, here’s the statement, the festival’s statement on the lawsuit.  They said, “we have not yet have time to review this, but the case doesn’t appear to have any merit.  Despite the impacts of COVID globally and Hurricane Ida days before the festival, we persevered and produced a show where thousands of guests had a great time.  We remain focused on our amazing new venue for 2022 and following our plan to elevate all aspects of our next festival.”

JERRICK

They’re moving forward!

FELDMAN

Right?  Yeah, well, they’re not declaring bankruptcy like Fyre, right? At least not yet.  We’ll see how much this costs them.

JERRICK

Amy E., thank you.

HOLLEY

Thank you.

FELDMAN

Thank you, guys. 

Thanks to Alex Holley, Mike Jerrick, and the rest of the FOX 29 Philadelphia crew for having me on to discuss the Elements Festival lawsuit!  You can see this video and more on the FOX 29 website.

VA Mandates COVID Vaccines for Medical Employees, Staff. FOX 29 News, 7/26/21

TRANSCRIPT

VA Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine for Medical Employees, Staff

DRAYTON

Tonight it’s the first in the country impacting frontline workers here.  Doctors and nurses who are some of the first eligible for the COVID vaccine and now thousands will no longer have a choice.  Great to have you with us here. I’m Thomas Drayton.

TIMMENEY

And I’m Dawn Timmeney.  Today a federal agency announced: work in a VA medical center?  Get the vaccine.  And Chris, some of the people you spoke to didn’t even know yet.

O’CONNELL

Yes, Dawn, and it could signal a sign of things to come for all of us.  Frontline medical workers here at the VA medical center are being told if they don’t have the vaccine, they may not have a job.  Doctors, nurses, and staff that run the nation’s veterans medical centers will now have to be vaccinated or they could be fired.  Dr. Shaan Sadiq is one of them.

SADIQ

It’s smart from a business standpoint, and it’s also, more importantly in my mind, smart from a global and public health perspective.  You know, we have people at risk and those people are directly affected by our decision to get vaccinated or not.

O’CONNELL

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it’s requiring 115,000 patient-facing medical employees to be fully vaccinated by mid-September.  In a statement, the Secretary of the VA says whenever a Veteran or teammate sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know we have done everything in our power to keep them safe.  Most we talked with say requiring vaccines, especially in a healthcare setting makes sense.

VULLECK

Not only here, I’ve worked in other places.  We’ve had to have the flu vaccine for years now to stay employed.  This is just another vaccine.

O’CONNELL

Now a government agency is requiring vaccines to work, some think private companies won’t be far behind.

FELDMAN

Either he gets vaccinated or I stop coming to the office because you can’t protect my young children.

O’CONNELL

It’s an issue attorney Amy E. Feldman says employers will soon have to grapple with.

FELDMAN

When the federal government has made this decision, I’ll bet you’ll see a lot of private employers who have wondered, “can I, can’t I?” and now with all the discussion they will decide they can and they will.

O’CONNELL

And right now there are no federal laws preventing employers from requiring vaccines, but there are exceptions for medical and religious reasons, Thomas.

Thanks to FOX 29 Philadelphia for letting me discuss the new Veterans Affairs vaccine mandates!  For more, visit their website.

Changes are Coming to Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania. FOX 29 News, 7/16/21

TRANSCRIPT

Changes are Coming to Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

HUMPHRIES

In “Your Money” news tonight, 26 states, including Pennsylvania will soon require recipients of unemployment benefits to prove they are actively looking for work.  That change happens Sunday, so attorney Amy Feldman is here to help break all this down for us.  Hello, and thank you for joining us, Amy.

FELDMAN

It’s a pleasure.  Thank you so much for having me.

HUMPHRIES

Well, we’re happy to have you.  So, explain specifically what happens Sunday for those who are unemployed.

FELDMAN

Right, so, it used to be, pre-pandemic, that people had to prove if they were going to stay on unemployment, that they were actually actively searching for work.  And that was put on pause during the pandemic, but those requirements of an active job search are now back effective Sunday, July 18th.  Now, to collect unemployment in Pennsylvania, you are going to have to show that not only did you apply for two jobs, but that you engaged in a “work search activity” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

HUMPHRIES

Okay, so tell us what that is, “work search activity,” what exactly does that mean?

FELDMAN

Right, so, it means that you can’t just sit around and send an electronic resume to the cyberspace, you actually have to do something active about it.  For example, and they listed – the Department of Labor and Industry lists the the things that you could do to prove that it’s an active search.  Go to a job fair, or you could post your resume on the Pennsylvania career link website, or you could take – avail yourself of the programs they have there.  You could also network.  You could call an employment agency and register there.  But it’s not enough just to send out a resume, you actually have to be active about your job search now.

HUMPHRIES

And continue it regularly.

FELDMAN

Exactly.

HUMPHRIES

Okay, so, how about that extra Federal Unemployment Payment, a lot of people have been talking about it, it’s being blamed for a lot of people not going to work.  So, was that still in effect and what’s the future of that?

FELDMAN

Right, so actually, about 25 states have done away with it.  It is scheduled to phase out in early September in any event.  But some states have made the decision that it’s preventing people from going to work, and so they’ve stopped it.  For the viewers here, Pennsylvania – New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are not among the states that have so far ended it, although there’s a bill right now in the Pennsylvania House that could possibly end it and it would be coupled instead with a “get back to work” bonus, but so far that’s stuck in debate and may not even in fact really come to a vote until it’s going to end either way September 4th.

HUMPRHIES

Sure, and that is coming up fast, so it might be safe to assume it could be coming to an end.  Amy, thanks so much for your time today

FELDMAN

Thank you.

Thank you to FOX 29 Philadelphia for having me on to explain how some COVID-related unemployment benefits are ending.  You can see more on the FOX 29 website!

Is it Legal for an Employer to Ask if You are Vaccinated? FOX 29 News, 5/14/21

TRANSCRIPT

Is it Legal for an Employer to Ask if You are Vaccinated?

ANNOUNCER

For months we’ve talked about getting vaccinated, and while we wait for most people to get their shot in the arm, we’ve been asked a lot if companies and employers could force you to get a shot, and if asking about your vaccination status is against any HIPAA laws, so we brought in legal expert Amy Feldman to answer some of these questions that so many people have been asking.  How are you, Amy?

FELDMAN

I’m doing terrific, thank you.

ANNOUNCER

Great to have you with us this evening.  So many questions, and so let’s start with this one: is a company violating the law if they make you show proof of vaccination?

FELDMAN

They are not.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that it’s not a violation for an employer to require that you are vaccinated and to prove it.

ANNOUNCER

Wow, okay.  Let’s back up a little bit.  Can you explain what HIPAA is?

FELDMAN

Right, so everybody talks about a HIPAA violation, but they’re, for the most part, using that wrong, because HIPAA, the Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act actually only covers institutions that hold your medical records, like your doctor, your dentist or your insurance company.  Your employer doesn’t hold your medical records, it has to ask you for your medical records.  So, what people, I think, mean when they say “isn’t this a violation of HIPAA?” is “doesn’t this violate my right to medical privacy?”

ANNOUNCER

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

FELDMAN

And so – yeah, right.  So, the answer to that question is simply asking whether someone’s been vaccinated does not violate your right to medical privacy.

ANNOUNCER

Okay.  Let’s take it a step further then.  What about employers?  Can they ask you to get the shot?

FELDMAN

Yes.

ANNOUNCER

Wow.

FELDMAN

So that’s another thing that – I know, it’s surprising, right?  Um, because, we know that school districts have required kids to get vaccinated, but until now only certain types of employers have required vaccinations. For example, people who work in hospital settings have, for a long time, been required to get vaccinated.  Now other employers have the right to ask that because we’re in the middle of a pandemic.  That said, there are exceptions to that where an employer may not require that you get vaccinated.

ANNOUNCER

Okay, let’s hear it.

FELDMAN

Okay, so, if you have a medical reason why you cannot be vaccinated, and your employer says to you – can ask the question “have you been vaccinated?”, if you say “I can’t be vaccinated because of a medical condition”, in that case, the employer may be in danger if they ask follow-up questions of finding out medical information that they don’t have the right to learn, and/or if you can’t be vaccinated and they fire you for it, but the reason you can’t is because of a medical reason, there may be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act if there would be other reasonable accommodations that they could make so that you and your coworkers would remain safe even if you aren’t vaccinated. 

ANNOUNCER

There’s this widely believed notion that employers don’t have this much power, but they do.

FELDMAN

In this case they do.

ANNOUNCER

They do.

FELDMAN

It’s not always the case, right? Because there are special rules here because the CDC and the government and the World Health Organization have all said that we’re still in the midst of this pandemic.  Even though we’re very fortunate here that in most areas of the country our numbers are really going down, but, for now, the government has said that employers can ask in an effort to keep people safe.

ANNOUNCER

Yeah.  Okay, Amy, thank you so much for your expertise and have a great weekend. Thanks for joining us.

AMY

Thank you

Thank you to FOX 29 News for having me on to discuss whether or not your employer can require you to get a COVID shot!  For more, you can visit the FOX 29 website.