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 (WHD), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The WHD regulates minimum wage and overtime compliance, including the related exemptions and FMLA compliance. Of course OSHA regulates workplace safety and the OFCCP enforces affirmative action requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors. Clearly, Secretary Acosta will have an opportunity to impact significant areas of employment regulation, though the specific impact remains to be seen. The new Secretary’s early public remarks understandably have been general and focused on broadly-stated objectives to preserve and return jobs. But will the path to that aim include significant changes in existing and proposed employment regulations?
Continue Reading New Secretary of Labor sworn in

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 in Dish Network, LLC probably would have yielded the same result with a full Trump Board, Acting Chairman Miscimarra’s concurring opinion likely signals a future relaxing of the Board’s standards for evaluating whether certain employer policies and employment agreements violate employee Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In Dish Network, the Board concluded that the employer’s mandatory arbitration policy and agreement violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. Following its jurisprudence from prior cases decided during the Obama Administration, the Board concluded that the arbitration agreement constituted an 8(a)(1) violation because it “specifies in broad terms that it applies to ‘any claim, controversy and/or dispute between them, arising out of and/or in any way related to Employee’s application for employment, employment and/or termination of employment, whenever and wherever brought.’”
Continue Reading NLRB’s Dish Network decision: A sign of things to come for employer arbitration agreements?

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 might comply with federal laws regulating political expression in the workplace and Ohio laws regarding voting leave.
Continue Reading Above the fray: The employer’s how-to guide on navigating the election season

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

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 to union avoidance and employee relations, as long as the attorney does not communicate directly with non-supervisory employees. For example, this injunction means that an attorney may lawfully, without reporting, prepare documents and speeches for an employer’s use during union organizing, train managers and supervisors through seminars, and develop personnel policies and practices for an employer to implement.

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

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. Examples of activities that will have to be reported under the new rule include:

  1. Planning, directing  or coordinating activities undertaken by supervisors or other employer representatives, including meetings and interactions with employees
  2. Providing material or communication for dissemination to employees
  3. Conducting a union avoidance seminar for supervisors and other employer representations
  4. Develop or implement personnel policies, practices, or actions for the employer that are intended to influence or persuade employees regarding their rights to engage or abstain from engaging in union organizing activities


Continue Reading Important update regarding DOL’S new “Persuader Rule”

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

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

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 a Fact Sheet relating to joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as a Fact Sheet relating to joint employment under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although the definition of joint employment under these acts has not changed, the DOL’s interpretation of the definition is expanding, and employers can expect that more of them will be subject to claims under the FLSA and FMLA in joint employment situations.

Continue Reading DOL joins NLRB in making joint employment an enforcement priority

Within the last month, courts have taken steps to protect communications made via social media. For example, in Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305 (D.N.J. Aug 20, 2013), which we reported on here, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey held that private Facebook posts are protected under the Stored Communications Act. On the heels of that decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bland v. Roberts, 12-1671 (4th Cir. Sept. 18, 2013) overturned a district court decision that had held that public employees’ Facebook “Likes” were not protected speech under the First Amendment. (Remember of course, that public employees, unlike the employees of private businesses, have limited First Amendment rights to speak out on matters of public concern.)
Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Holds “Liking” a Facebook Page is Protected Speech in the Public Employment Context. What Does This Mean In the Private Employment Context? Well, It Won’t Stop Those Annoying Farmville or Candy Crush Invitations