In a follow up to its Whole Foods Market, Inc. decision, which found unlawful an employer policy prohibiting workplace recordings by employees without prior management approval, an NLRB panel majority in Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Inc. denied the General Counsel’s motion for summary judgment on a similar “no recording” policy. According to the majority, Mercedes was entitled to a hearing, which would provide an opportunity to present evidence regarding its business justifications for the policy, and about whether the policy was communicated or applied in a manner that clearly conveyed an intent to permit protected activity.

Member Pearce dissented, arguing that the employer’s policy which prohibited the use of cameras and video recording devices in the plant without prior authorization, was facially overbroad and did not provide any exceptions for protected concerted activity. As such, according to Member Pearce, the policy tends to impermissibly chill employee expression and therefore was unlawful regardless of the employer’s intent in adopting and implementing the policy and regardless of whether employees actually interpreted the policy as restricting their Section 7 rights.

Continue Reading NLRB panel majority upholds employer right to justify “no recording” policy; denies general counsel summary judgment motion

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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, lowering unemployment and workers compensation expenses, tax withholding responsibility, and many of the other attendant costs of the employment relationship.

Companies who use temporary staff (I will call them “user” companies here) often take careful measures to limit the risk of being determined a joint employer with the company providing temporary staff. Those steps include having the temporary staffing company (I will call them “temporary staff providers” here) be responsible for all hiring, discipline, and termination decisions. In some cases, the user company relies on the temporary staff provider for on-site supervision and sometimes even human resources support on-site. In most cases, the user company has an indirect impact on wages of the temporary staff by virtue of the negotiated labor rate but, in almost all cases, all other employment benefits are provided solely by the temporary staff provider.

What if a union targets the temporary workers at a user company’s workplace for organization? If the union is successful, who is the “employer” required to recognize and bargain with the union? Until recently, the answer was pretty easy. As long as the user company was careful not to exert direct control over the terms and conditions of employment of the temporary workers, then the employer required to recognize and bargain with the union was the temporary staff supplier only. Efforts made by unions to argue for a joint employment determination were usually unsuccessful. All that has changed.

What does the case say?

Last Thursday, in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., the NLRB decided that the user company and the temporary staff supplier are a joint employer. The user company was Browning-Ferris (BFI), which operates a recycling facility. The temporary staff supplier was Leadpoint. The Teamsters Union tried to organize a group of 240 Leadpoint employees working at the BFI facility. The temporary staff performed work different than that performed by the BFI regular workforce. The BFI regular workforce was already unionized. Leadpoint provided on-site supervision and an on-site human resource representative. Leadpoint also kept control of hiring decisions, subject to certain broad criteria imposed by BFI. When there were on-site misconduct issues involving temporary staff people, BFI made Leadpoint aware and Leadpoint was responsible to investigate and take action, though BFI retained the right to discontinue the assignment of any of the temporary staffers. In other words, Browning-Ferris did all “right” things in its effort to remain separate from Leadpoint.
Continue Reading Are you a “joint employer” with your temporary staff supplier? The National Labor Relations Board says “Yes.”

In April 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) implemented a rule that effectively speeds up the time in which union representation elections occur. The process toward a union representation election typically starts when the union petitions the NLRB to conduct an election. During the months since the rule took effect, the time between petition filing and the representation election has been about 23 days. That is down 39.5 percent from the 38 day average that was common before the rule went into effect. As long as the rule remains in effect, there is every reason to expect this trend of quicker elections will continue.

The employer community has great concerns about the NLRB rule and the resulting reduction in the time for union representation elections. It is often referred to by employer groups and representatives as the “quickie election rule” or the “ambush election rule.” The time between petition filing and election is a crucial period for employer communication to employees. When a union files a petition for representation election, the union is usually at the peak of its support among employees. Between petition filing and election, the union’s representatives will actively campaign for employee votes in the upcoming election. Employers have the same right to communicate lawful and honest information to employees in an effort to influence them to vote to stay non-union. An abbreviated time for communication makes it much more difficult for the employer to convey the message, especially in a large workforce. Therefore, shortening the time between petition and election may give unions an advantage. Although, it is interesting to note that in the months since the rule took effect the union percentage win rate in elections has been about 62 percent, which is very close to the overall union win rate in elections for the past few years.
Continue Reading Another Federal District Court upholds NLRB expedited election rules

The NLRB’s controversial “quickie election” rule is slated to take effect April 14, 2015. That’s next week! Two lawsuits filed by employer groups in January to block the rule are pending in separate federal courts of appeals. However, absent a “hail Mary” ruling by one of these courts, employers have to ask themselves if they