LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad featured in MPR News

Millions of Americans will be subject to new vaccine mandates issued by President Joe Biden, including more than 1.4 million workers in Minnesota.

The announcement this week comes as the highly contagious delta variant continues to sweep the nation, putting unvaccinated people at higher risk of hospitalization and death.

Biden only described his plan in broad strokes during a White House press conference Thursday, but the strategy is already drawing applause from some corners — and a lot of questions from others.

On one hand, the mandate gives employers who are hesitant to battle employees over vaccines cover, said Susan Ellingstad, a partner with Minneapolis-based firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen.

“I think there are a lot of employers who have really wanted to [issue vaccine mandates] and […]

2021-09-13T11:21:03-05:00Sep 13, 2021|

LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad featured in StarTribune

Minnesota employers, many of whom had been wary of instituting vaccine mandates of their own, were scrambling on Friday to understand how and when they will have to implement new federal guidelines that will require them to do just that.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new federal regulations that will require employers with more than 100 workers to require immunizations or weekly testing. It’s a big move aimed at curbing the recent surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations mostly among the unvaccinated.

In Minnesota, the new orders will affect about 4,800 businesses which employ about 1.4 million Minnesotans, according to Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). That is about half of the state’s total workforce.

Amid a tight labor market, […]

2021-09-13T10:23:19-05:00Sep 13, 2021|

LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad featured in StarTribune

Following a closely watched legal battle over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff at a Houston health system — a battle that the hospital won — no hospital or nursing home in Minnesota has imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on its workers, people in the industry say.

Though vaccine mandates appear legal, trade groups representing hospitals and nursing homes in the state are not urging their members to implement them now. The Minnesota Department of Health hasn’t taken a position.

“That should not be construed to suggest that it isn’t incredibly important that people be vaccinated,” MDH spokesman Doug Schultz said in a statement. “It is VERY important to get everyone vaccinated.”

Minnesota reached a vaccine milestone last week, surpassing 3 million residents with […]

2021-06-21T13:26:55-05:00Jun 21, 2021|

LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad featured in Wall Street Journal

LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article discussing the role that employers have in ensuring a high percentage of the population gets vaccinated in an effort to curb the pandemic.

Lockridge Grindal Nauen in March mandated that our 100-person staff get vaccinated, barring an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Employees weren’t asked to provide proof but to notify our firm’s human resources director when they were fully vaccinated to help determine when we could reopen our offices or schedule more in-person gatherings. Ms. Ellingstad said there was no resistance, and all employees have complied.

“We’re never going to get past this until we have enough people vaccinated,” Ms. Ellingstad said. “Employers have a role to play in this.”

Read the full article here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-push-employees-to-prove-they-are-vaccinated-11623672001

2021-06-21T13:03:05-05:00Jun 14, 2021|


Now that three COVID-19 vaccines have finally received emergency use authorization (“EUA”) from the Federal Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) and President Biden just announced that all eligible adults should be able to sign up for a vaccine appointment by May 1, the question employers have pondered for some time is ripe for decision: Can employers require their employees to get vaccinated? And the related questions: Can employers ask employees for proof of vaccination? Can employers prohibit employees from coming to the workplace without having been vaccinated? And can employers terminate employees who refuse to be vaccinated?

The short answer to all of the above is yes. But as with every employment decision, it comes with lots of caveats, careful navigation through the legal landscape, risk assessments, and employee morale considerations.

The Legal Landscape

Several federal laws govern these questions, including the Americans with […]

2021-03-17T13:39:41-05:00Mar 15, 2021|

The Importance of High Quality Masks

With the high level of community spread of COVID-19 and now new, more transmissible strains of the virus, it is more important than ever to wear a high-quality mask when you are out in public or inside around anyone who does not live with you. Because medical quality masks were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic, and N95 masks (which offer the best protection and can filter out at least 95% of infectious particles) were needed for health care workers, the public was advised to use cloth masks. For some time now, medical/surgical masks have been available and are superior to cloth masks. But scientists say even surgical masks, which do not fit tightly, may not be enough to protect against these new variants of the virus, especially when people are indoor spaces with other people, such as grocery stores. The recommendation now is, at a minimum, […]

2021-02-04T20:36:35-06:00Feb 2, 2021|

LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad recently chaired a full-day Employment Law program through Minnesota CLE on various topics relating to COVID-19

Ms. Ellingstad presented a session on Workplace Safety, including implementing and revising safety protocols and policies to reflect the evolving science and knowledge about COVID-19. Much of what we are learning about COVID-19 will impact our work environment long after the pandemic is over. This important discussion centered on creating best practices and proactive measures and evolving them as information rapidly changes.

Susan E. Ellingstad
(612) 596-4074

2021-01-19T16:31:55-06:00Jan 19, 2021|


Governor Tim Walz today announced the phases in his Stay Safe Plan, including a cautious, strategic turn of the dial to allow limited outdoor dining at restaurants and bars starting June 1, 2020. The Governor also announced that salons and barbershops will be allowed to open June 1 at 25 percent occupancy to ensure the safety of both the employees and the customers inside. In both industries, customers will be either strongly recommended or required to wear masks, make reservations, and adhere to social distancing requirements to keep themselves, other customers, and employees safe.

“Our restaurants and bars are an integral part of the social fabric of Minnesota, and it has been heartbreaking to see this pandemic wreak havoc on our hospitality industry,” said Governor Walz. “While the virus won’t yet allow for business as usual, let’s do what we do best after winter in Minnesota and […]

2020-05-20T17:05:28-05:00May 20, 2020|


LGN Partner Susan Ellingstad was recently among some Twin Cities attorneys interviewed by MPR News about workplace protections that apply when employees are working from home. Employers need to consider worker’s compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and privacy laws, to name a few. Susan heads the firm’s employment law department. She and her team regularly advise employers on these and other issues impacting employers. Listen to the interview.

2020-05-13T15:23:35-05:00May 13, 2020|


Masks vs. Respirators

OSHA and MN OSHA distinguish between masks and respirators.  Masks (homemade, paper, and non-surgical masks) provide some protection to those around the wearer from droplets, etc., if the wearer coughs or sneezes.  These masks do not, however, provide the same level of protection for the wearer from inhaling particles or contaminates that is provided by a properly used and fitted respirator. See, Brosseau and Sietsema, Commentary: Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data, April 1, 2020, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.  Even though masks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), MN OSHA has nonetheless established some guidelines for employers on their use, which are discussed below.

Respirators (including what most people refer to as “N95 masks”) are considered PPE and, if properly fitted and used, can provide protection for the wearer from the hazardous atmospheres and materials and agents for […]

2020-05-08T11:58:56-05:00May 5, 2020|


As part of Minnesota’s and other states’ reopening measures, state and local governments are requiring employers – before opening – to implement preparedness plans which adopt guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and state Departments of Health to combat the spread of COVID-19. These safeguards include:

  • Personal hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
  • Engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
  • Housekeeping – cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination;
  • Prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
  • Communications and training that will be provided to managers and workers; and
  • Management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.

In addition to meeting the minimum requirements to comply with executive orders and recommended guidelines, employers need to be proactive leaders in reducing the risk of future outbreaks […]

2020-05-07T17:14:38-05:00May 1, 2020|


On April 24, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-40 Allowing Workers in Certain Non-Critical Business Sectors to Return to Safe Workplaces as early as April 27, 2020.

Non-Critical Businesses Now Allowed to Reopen:

  1. Industrial and manufacturing businesses.
    – Includes wholesale trade, warehousing, and places of employment in which goods are in the process of being created.
    – This category does not include customer-facing retail environments associated with an industrial or manufacturing business in this category.
  2. Office-based businesses
    – Includes office-based businesses where workers do their work within an office space, at their desk, and their work is primarily not customer-facing.
    – This category does not include customer-facing retail environments associated with office-based businesses in this category.
  3. Examples of what you can do:
    – Interact with co-workers while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
    – Conduct virtual meetings with co-workers, customers, and suppliers.
    – Work at workstations as long as there is adequate space […]
2020-05-07T17:17:56-05:00Apr 29, 2020|


Executive Order 20-40, issued by Gov. Tim Walz on April 23, 2020, requires each business in operation during the peacetime emergency to establish a “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.”

The Preparedness Plan must meet the criteria set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines for COVID-19 and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards related to worker exposure to COVID-19.

The Preparedness Plan must contain certain minimum requirements, including:

  1. infection prevention measures;
  2. prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
  3. engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
  4. housekeeping, including cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination;
  5. communications and training for managers and workers necessary to implement the plan; and
  6. management and supervision necessary to ensure effective ongoing implementation of the plan.

Below is a template Preparedness Plan by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that can also be found here:


**Inserted throughout are links to […]

2020-05-07T17:20:00-05:00Apr 29, 2020|


On April 23, 2020, the EEOC updated is COVID-10 Guidance, affirming employers’ ability to test employees for COVID-19 before allowing employees to enter the workplace.

The new Guidance allows employers to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus.

Consistent with the ADA standard, employers should:

  • Ensure that the tests are accurate and reliable.  Rely on FDA, CDC, and state health officials’ guidance and updates.
  • Consider the incidence of false-positives or false-negatives associated with a particular test.
  • Remember that accurate testing only reveals if the virus is currently present; a negative test does not mean the employee will not acquire the virus later.


This supplements the EEOC’s earlier guidance that employers may take employees’ temperatures as part of their efforts to prevent transmission of the virus in the workplace:

“Because the CDC and […]

2020-05-07T17:21:15-05:00Apr 29, 2020|


During this unprecedented time in our country and state, businesses, non-profits, and units of government are experiencing extraordinary challenges in adapting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Navigating a crisis often involves a multi-pronged approach of government relations expertise and a public relations strategy. Whether this unparalleled moment has brought new challenges to your organization or whether it’s a crisis that’s developed independently of the pandemic, Lockridge Grindal Nauen and Primacy Strategy Group’s experienced team of professionals is equipped to deliver for you.

The first step to addressing a crisis is to stem the tide. This could mean engaging with key government officials and developing a public relations plan that involves establishing one’s credibility with target audiences and taking a disciplined approach to communicating a specific message over the long-term.

Lockridge Grindal Nauen and Primacy Strategy Group’s teams […]

2020-05-07T17:22:23-05:00Apr 28, 2020|



The CARES Act created three benefits programs to provide and expand unemployment benefits:

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
    Provides an additional 13 weeks after regular unemployment compensation benefits are exhausted. Ends 12/31/2020
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    Extends benefits to self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. Ends 12/31/2020
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
    Provides an additional $600 per week above the current state benefit. Ends 7/31/2020.

Expanded Unemployment Income (UI) Benefits:

The Act provides an additional federally-funded $600 of UI benefits per week on top of the weekly benefit amount determined by the state. This additional $600 per week is taxable and will expire on July 31, 2020.

Full and part-time workers who are laid off, furloughed, or have their hours reduced because of COVID-related impact on the business may be eligible to receive UI benefits under the Act. Upon application, each state will determine whether an employee should receive full or partial benefits. It […]

2020-05-07T17:23:37-05:00Apr 13, 2020|


On April 8, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-33 extending the stay at home period that was put in place by Executive Order 20-20 to 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020.  Executive Order 20-33 and the guidance issued by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) contain some notable changes from the prior Order, which has been rescinded.

The exceptions for certain personal activities identified (e.g., shopping for food and supplies, seeking medical help and caring for others) remain largely unchanged from prior Order with a few notable additions:  (1) travel to purchase materials to make homemade personal protective equipment; (2) voting; (3) moving to a new residence; and (4) attending funerals so long as there are no more than 10 attendees.  As before, when engaging in any of the exempt personal activities, Minnesotans must follow the Minnesota Department of Health Guidelines to the maximum extent possible, including maintaining […]

2020-05-07T17:33:56-05:00Apr 9, 2020|


On March 25, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20 ordering all Minnesotans to stay in their homes until April 10, 2020. There are exceptions for certain personal activities identified in the Order (shopping for food and supplies, seeking medical help and caring for others among others). In addition, there is an exemption for “Critical Sector Work.”

To determine whether your business fits within this exception and whether any of your employees qualify as “Critical Workers,” businesses need to look to the following three resources:

  1. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security’s Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response
  2. Governor’s Executive Order
  3. List of NAICS Codes determined to be critical industries

If your business clearly meets the definition of a critical industry in one of the resources above, then some of your employees may […]

2020-05-07T17:32:39-05:00Apr 1, 2020|



While the loan and relief programs under the CARES Act are extensive, there are three programs that small businesses can access now—the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Express Loan program and the State of Minnesota’s Small Business Emergency Loan Program.


This program offers up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.

The loans are available with long-term repayment schedules in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. The terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based […]

2020-05-07T17:31:04-05:00Apr 1, 2020|
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