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Courts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island permit medical marijuana users to pursue disability discrimination claims

Recent decisions from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and a Rhode Island Superior Court have held that a discharged employee and a rejected applicant, both of whom tested positive for marijuana, may pursue disability discrimination claims under state law. These are among the first decisions issued that address whether employers have a state law obligation to reasonably accommodate the medical marijuana use of their disabled employees and applicants.

Because marijuana use – whether for medicinal or recreational purposes – remains unlawful under federal law, employers have no obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to reasonably accommodate its use by …

OSHA proposes delay to electronic injury reporting requirement and no mechanism in place on OSHA’s website for electronic reporting compliance

The compliance deadline for Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electronic injury and illness reporting rule has come and gone, and there is no mechanism in place for employers to electronically report work-related injuries and illnesses. On June 27, 2017, OSHA proposed moving the July 1, 2017 mandatory compliance deadline to Dec. 1, 2017. The window for public comment on the proposed delay closed on July 13th. At present, the “proposed delay” remains a “proposal,” but, even so, OSHA does not yet have the mechanism in place for compliance with the electronic reporting requirement.

For many years, OSHA required employers …

Full Eighth Circuit upholds employee terminations in Jimmy John’s paid sick leave dispute

In an en banc decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned an earlier panel decision, which we reported on here, in MikLin Enterprises Inc. v. NLRB, in which the panel had upheld the NLRB’s finding that a Jimmy John’s franchisee had violated the rights of its employees under the National Labor Relations Act, when it fired them for hanging posters at their shops that suggested that the customers could be eating sandwiches that were made by sick employees in an effort to pressure the franchisee to adopt a paid sick leave policy.

In the …

The return of Department of Labor Opinion Letters

On June 27, 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced it would reinstate the practice of issuing Opinion Letters. The Wage and Hour Division will once again use Opinion Letters to provide guidance to employers and employees on various topics.

Under the Obama Administration, the DOL stopped issuing Opinion Letters in favor of the more broad “Administrator Interpretations.” Between 2010 and 2016, the DOL only published 11 Administrator Interpretations. Two of these 11 Interpretations were recently rescinded, as we previously reported.…

Department of Labor rescinds recent joint employer guidance

On June 7, 2017 the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, announced that the US Department of Labor (DOL) was withdrawing its 2015 and 2016 guidance on joint employment and independent contractors. The Obama-era guidance expanded how joint employment was defined to include employers that have indirect or potential control over the terms and conditions of employment, as we previously reported. By moving away from this guidance, the DOL returns to the previous direct control standard. The move also rescinds an Interpretation Letter stating the DOL would broadly define “employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and that most …

“Can you hear me now?” NLRB judge calls on Verizon to remove restrictive handbook policies

Employers beware…it may be time yet again to review your handbooks to make sure that your policies do not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge recently ordered several Verizon Wireless stores to strike certain employee handbook policies.  In all, the decision means Verizon Wireless must strike 10 employee handbook policies that violated the NLRA because they could be read to chill employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity.

Section 7 of the NLRA grants employees the right to engage in concerted activity for the purpose of mutual aid and protection. …

New Secretary of Labor sworn in

Much has been written recently about the first 100 days of the Trump Administration. Some would argue that little of significance has changed in the employment regulation world. But, the confirmation on April 27, 2017 of new Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta squeaked through the door just before the first 100 days concluded and it could be an initial step towards the sort of employment regulation reform that many in the business community have been expecting.

Secretary Acosta will lead the Department of Labor (DOL), the cabinet department responsible for, among other agencies, the federal Wage and Hour Division …

NLRB’s Dish Network decision: A sign of things to come for employer arbitration agreements?

As he tends to remind us on a regular basis, Donald Trump won the presidential election back in November 2016. But that doesn’t mean that National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) policy turns on a dime. The Board has only three members at this time with Member Philip Miscimarra (R) in the role of Acting Chairman still outnumbered by Members Pearce (D) and McFerran (D). With confirmations of even cabinet level nominations still pending, it could be well into 2018 before a full complement of Board Members are in place and the Republicans take the majority.

Although the Board’s recent decision …

Employer alert: Revised I-9 Form required beginning Jan. 22, 2017

USCIS recently released a revised version of Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification document. Since November 1986, all U.S. employers have been required to complete and retain the I-9 for all new employees. Employers may continue using the I-9 form dated March 8, 2013 until Jan. 22, 2017, when the use of the revised form becomes mandatory. It remains a 3 page form, but there are minor revisions, including a separate supplemental page for a preparer/translator and an “additional information” box on page 2, but there is also a new user-friendly online PDF “smart” version of the form available at …

The door may be open for county or municipal government “right-to-work” laws in Ohio

Right-to-work laws limit the “union security” a union can achieve in a collective bargaining agreement with an employer. In states with no right-to-work law, unions can bargain for contract provisions requiring that, as a condition of continued employment, employees must either join the union or at least pay monthly fees to the union for its collective bargaining efforts. In states that have right-to-work laws, that sort of union security provision is illegal. There are 26 states with right-to-work laws currently. Ohio does not have a right-to-work law.…

November election results likely will significantly impact labor and employment law in coming years

Now that it is clear that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, questions are continuously being asked about how the regime change when he takes office in January of 2017 will impact labor and employment law. Acknowledging that any discussion of Trump’s policies before he takes office on Jan. 20, 2017 is purely speculation, it is important for employers to consider the potential implications on labor and employment law.…

Important update regarding the DOL’S Persuader Rule: Texas District Court issued a permanent, nationwide injunction blocking it

When we last reported on the status of the U.S. Department of Labor’s controversial “Persuader Rule,” it was to inform you that on June 27, 2016, a federal district court in Texas had issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocked the DOL’s new interpretation of the rule from taking effect. We are pleased to report that yesterday that same court converted the preliminary injunction into a permanent order blocking the new rule’s implementation. The Texas District Court’s order is national in scope.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings granted summary judgment to Texas and nine other states, as well as …

Above the fray: The employer’s how-to guide on navigating the election season

A special thanks to Adam Bennett for his assistance with this article.

Election Day is quickly approaching. Rejoice! There really is a light at the end of the tunnel when the endless stream of attack ads will cease to exist. But before the last ballot is cast, the last precinct closes and the final votes are tallied, employers are sure to have plenty of questions about how to address employees’ political expression in the workplace without violating the law or making any employee feel alienated. To avoid being left with post-election blues, Ohio employers are wise to consider how they …

DOL issues updated required posters for FLSA and EPPA

The federal Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an updated poster for the “Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” poster, which is a federally required poster. The updated poster adds information on the rights of nursing mothers (to lactation breaks) under the FLSA, misclassification issues related to independent contractors and tip credits. In an effort to move forward with technology, the new poster also includes a scannable QR code which take employees to the DOL website for information on compliance with the FLSA as well as instructions on how to file a complaint. The poster is available here

DOL’s Persuader Rule blocked from taking effect – for now

A special thanks to summer clerk Arslan Sheikh for his assistance with this article

On June 27th, 2016, a federal district court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new interpretation of the “Persuader Rule.” This injunction, which is national in scope, is a big win for employers and attorneys alike as it provides both parties more latitude to discuss union avoidance issues without being subject to reporting requirements. The Texas court’s decision means that the DOL must continue to exempt an attorney from reporting to the DOL on advice given to clients pertaining …

Important update regarding DOL’S new “Persuader Rule”

As we previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new “Persuader Rule” is set to take effect July 1, 2016. The rule is highly controversial because it requires employers and labor relations consultants, including attorneys, to file reports with the DOL regarding any arrangements to assist the employer in “persuading” employees regarding their rights to engage in, or refrain from engaging in, union organizing activities or to collectively bargain. Under the new Persuader Rule, many legal services that labor consultants and lawyers typically provide to employers will have to be reported to the federal government effective July 1, 2016. …

8th Circuit upholds unfair labor practice findings in Jimmy John’s “Sick Sandwich” case

In a 2-1 decision, the 8th Circuit on March 25th in MikLin Enterprises, Inc., v. National Labor Relations Board enforced an NLRB Order finding that a Jimmy John’s franchisee violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it fired six employees for participating in a poster campaign designed to focus public attention on what they felt was the franchisee’s inadequate sick leave policy. As part of the campaign, the workers hung posters at their shops and then later elsewhere suggesting that customers would not be able to visually tell the difference between sandwiches made by …

DOL’s final “Persuader Rule” delivers another coup to unions

Thinking about having an employment relations consultant or attorney meet with your managers and supervisors for a union avoidance session? If so, you may want to have it scheduled to take place prior to July 1, 2016. According to a new rule issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), any union avoidance seminars conducted for supervisors or other employer representatives after July 1, 2016 must be reported to the DOL on government-issued forms.…

Lawyers’ FLSA advice may be discoverable

To avoid an award of liquidated damages in an Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) action asserting that a defendant willfully violated the FLSA’s overtime provisions, the defendant must prove that it “acted in subjective ‘good faith’ and had objectively ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing that the acts or omissions giving rise to the failure did not violate the [statute].” FLSA defendants frequently therefore assert that they sought and followed the advice of counsel in assessing whether overtime payments were required under the FLSA, which results in an implied waiver of the attorney-client and attorney work product privileges. The scope of that …

DOL joins NLRB in making joint employment an enforcement priority

In prior posts (Are you a “joint employer” with your temporary staff supplier? The National Labor Relations Board says “Yes,” and ; NLRB poised to relax standard for establishing joint employment; may mean more union issues in franchising and temporary service worker deals ), we wrote about decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that expand the definition of joint employment and broaden potential liability for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) joined the NLRB in making joint employment an enforcement priority when it issued an Administrator’s Interpretation and …

Seven employment law trends to keep your eyes on for 2016

2016 has arrived, marking the beginning of a year of political transition. While we cannot be certain what the upcoming Presidential election holds for 2017, we can expect to see at least seven employment law trends as we move through this year.

1. Increase in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) initiatives and enforcement

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to the thresholds for exempt status, which will increase the number of employees eligible for minimum wage and overtime payments. In addition, technology advances in the workplace are likely to collide with wage and hour laws with the increased …

NLRB General Counsel Advice Memo absolves employer for not bargaining over use of GPS devices to track employee

Wait…. What?

Yes, in Shore Point Distribution Co., Inc., the NLRB’s General Counsel’s Office issued an Advice Memorandum yesterday (dated October 15, 2015) in which it stated that an employer did not violate Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act by failing to bargain with union before installing a GPS device on an employee’s truck.

In March 2015, the employer became concerned that one of its employees was taking more time than other drivers to complete the same routes. It therefore hired a private investigator to follow and videotape the driver on his routes. The employer placed a …

Second Circuit upholds NLRB finding that Triple Play Sports Grille unlawfully terminated employees for Facebook postings

Back in September of last year, we reported on an NLRB decision finding that a Connecticut sports bar, Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille, had unlawfully terminated two employees – one of whom commented on a former employee’s criticism of the employer’s handling of the tax withholding on employee paychecks and the other who clicked “Like” in response to that comment. This past week, the Second Circuit, on Triple Play’s petition for review, upheld the Board’s decision, in a case captioned Three D, LLC, d/b/a Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille v. NLRB.

In its decision, the Second Circuit …

Are you a “joint employer” with your temporary staff supplier? The National Labor Relations Board says “Yes.”

Following a decision last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), it is likely that all companies that use temporary staff workers will be considered a “joint employer” with the temporary staffing agency if efforts are made by a union to organize the temporary workers.

The use of temporary staff is a significant part of the business plan for many companies. Although it was in the past a strategy used primarily by manufacturing companies, temporary staffing is now common across many industries, including warehousing, logistics and service. The potential advantages to using temporary staff include off-loading human resource responsibilities, …

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