So, following the violent events and controversy surrounding the white nationalist/supremacist rally in Charlottesville, it was reported by Berkeleyside that an employee was fired from his job because of his participation in the rally. (The story was subsequently updated to state that the employee voluntarily resigned during a conversation with his employer about his involvement at the rally). But the initial story raised questions about whether an employer can take action against an employee for engaging in off-duty activities that an employer may find repugnant – such as participating in a white supremacist rally. Continue Reading Workplace Lessons From Charlottesville

Last year, Fiona’s sister told her that a herd of goats, complete with a  goat herder, had moved into the park next to her house. They were brought in to clear certain park areas of overgrown vegetation. What a charming, effective, and environmentally-friendly solution! Apparently Western Michigan University had the same thought, because it also brought in goats to clear areas of the campus. But a union has decided to butt in and has filed a grievance against the University, claiming that the goats were performing “union work!” (We can see it now, brave goats crossing a picket line to get to their jobs!) Continue Reading Animal Subcontracting – Getting the Union’s Goat!

Departing employees do a lot of dumb things with email.  Sometimes they use an employer’s systems, which they know are regularly monitored, to ask their attorneys how to set up claims against their employers.  Sometimes, after they email a slew of confidential or trade secret information to themselves on their way out the door, they click delete on the sent messages only to leave all of the evidence in the “deleted” folder.  In today’s blog, we ask employers to leave it to departing employees to do dumb stuff with email. Continue Reading Don’t Access My Emails And Tell Me It’s Legal

OSHA initially launched the “Heat Illness Prevention” campaign in 2011 to help educate employers and employees on the dangers that may arise when working in hot environments.  This year, OSHA re-emphasized its plan of action and published a “Quick Card,” which outlines several ways for employers to maintain the safety of their employees.  Heat illness can take many forms including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. Continue Reading OSHA’s Guidelines for Employees Working during the “Dog Days of Summer”

I became the commissioner of my daughter’s county basketball league when she was nine.  No one else would “step up.”  The prior year, a player had slapped another player in the handshake line at the end of a game in retribution for rough play (by an 8-year-old girl!) and no game commissioner was there to intervene.  I decided to take on the role of cool-headed logistics manager: a non-coach who could make sure the game schedule was set, the rules were observed, and each game had a designated adult in attendance to avoid bad sports behavior (whether by players, coaches or parents).  But this “cool headed commissioner” is ripping mad at the NLRB (or, to be more precise, the NLRB majority) for concluding that junior and senior high school lacrosse referees are employees and not independent contractors entitled to unionize! Continue Reading The NLRB Thinks High School Sports Referees Can Unionize!

The issue of whether employees can be required to sign arbitration agreements that contain waivers of their right to file a class or collective action over employment-related disputes is one that has drawn much attention – and much conflict – in recent years. The Obama administration, it seemed, steadfastly opposed such waivers. Under the Trump administration, which (regardless of your politics) has had a slow and bumpy transition of federal agency leadership, the agencies do not appear to be operating from the same playbook – as evidenced by recent actions by the National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB). Continue Reading The Government Seems Confused About Class Action Waivers

Earle K. Shawe, the founder of our firm, passed away on June 30, 2017, at age 104. Earle was present during the infancy of the modern labor law movement in the 1930s, and left his mark throughout the subsequent decades of his practice – truly a giant in the field of labor law.

Earle was a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School – an institution to which he remained devoted throughout his life. In 1996, he endowed the Earle K. Shawe Professorship in Employment Law at the school. Continue Reading Earle K. Shawe – The Passing of a Labor Law Pioneer

24329Of course clients call me for advice on how to handle sticky situations with employees – that’s a major part of my job. And they know that our communications are subject to the sacred attorney-client privilege. But what companies need to understand is that this privilege might be waived by its corporate management, including officers and directors. It’s fine if the client knowingly chooses to waive it, with a full understanding of the consequences of such waiver – but, unfortunately, it can also be waived unintentionally. A recent case provides an excellent warning to companies (and their attorneys) about this. Continue Reading Be Careful About Waiving the Attorney-Client Privilege

Green-baby-boy-rattle-baby-rattle-clipart-cool-LSoFao-clipartThis past week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it was filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a male J. P. Morgan employee because the company denies fathers paid parental leave on the same terms as mothers. Now this is an issue that has been percolating for awhile – and one that is not necessarily on the radar screens of smaller employers, many of whom may offer maternity – but not paternity – leave benefits to their employees. Continue Reading Maternity/Parental Leave Policies – A Trap for the Unwary

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As we previously blogged, Shawe Rosenthal, on behalf of the Worklaw®Network, a nationwide association of independent labor and employment law firms of which we are a member, filed suit last year against the U.S. Department of Labor to block the DOL’s new interpretation of the advice exemption of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), or the “persuader rule.”  And now, on Monday, June 12, 2017, the DOL announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that proposes to rescind that new persuader rule interpretation.  Continue Reading We Sued the Department of Labor, and Now It Has Backtracked on the Persuader Rule