yoga-1159968Employers (hopefully) know that you can’t fire someone based on a legally protected personal characteristic, like race, sex, religion, age or disability (among many other things). But apparently, being “too cute” is not one of them!

In this case, Edwards v. Nicolai, a yoga instructor, Dilek Edwards, worked at a chiropractic and wellness clinic owned by Charles Nicolai and his wife, Stephanie Adams. (Ms. Adams, by the way, is the first openly lesbian Playboy Playmate (Miss November 1992), as reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail. Isn’t that intriguing?) According to Ms. Edwards, her relationship with Dr. Nicolai was strictly professional. At one point, however, he told Ms. Edwards that his wife might become jealous of her because she was “too cute.” Ms. Edwards only met Ms. Adams once, at the office, and the meeting was cordial. Continue Reading Fired for Being “Too Cute”

U-Turn-SignIn another blow to management, on July 11, 2016, a divided National Labor Relations Board issued Miller & Anderson, in which it reversed course after more than a decade to return to the rule established in the 2000 case of M.B. Sturgis, Inc., whereby employees supplied by a staffing agency can be included in a single bargaining unit — and vote in an NLRB representation election — with an employer’s regular employees without the consent of both employers.

In 2004, M.B. Sturgis was itself reversed by Oakwood Care Center, in which the Board held that a union could organize a bargaining unit consisting of an employer’s regular employees and employees supplied by a staffing agency only if both the employer and the staffing agency consented to a combined secret ballot election.

Continue Reading NLRB Eases Unionization of Employees Referred by Staffing Agencies

Imagine this: Your cobook 2mpany has policies in your employee handbook determined to be unlawful by the NLRB.  Then, you and the NLRB engage in a line-by-line revision of the policies to ensure compliance with Board law and thereafter you issue a new handbook, with policies approved by the Board, to your employees.  Everything is ok, right? Wrong!  This is exactly what occurred in Boch Imports, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board.  In affirming the NLRB, the First Circuit determined that the Employer failed to properly repudiate its prior, unlawful handbook policies even though it revised those policies in collaboration with the NLRB Regional Office. Continue Reading Must Employers Repudiate Unlawful Handbook Policies?

gavel-1238036The U.S. District Court in Minnesota ruled, on June 22, 2016, that the Department of Labor’s new interpretation of the advice exemption from the persuader rule is “untenable” and “flawed.”   The Court did not issue an injunction against the new interpretation, which goes into effect July 1, 2016, but that was based on its finding that the DOL suspended the most objectionable reporting requirement after the lawsuit was filed.  The challenge to the new interpretation was filed by Worklaw Network, a national alliance of labor and employment firms of which we are a member.  Our firm, along with Seaton, Peters & Revnew, P.A. of Minneapolis, represented Worklaw, as we discussed in a prior post, “Shawe Rosenthal and Worklaw Just Sued the DOL.” Continue Reading Court Finds DOL’s New Persuader Rule “Flawed”

2000px-Venus_symbol.svgOn Tuesday (June 14, 2016) of this week, the White House Council on Women and Girls together with the Department of State, Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation held the Summit on the United State of Women.   On that same day, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Final Rule updating the OFCCP’s sex discrimination guidelines.  According to the OFCCP’s Fact Sheet, the revisions were to bring the guidelines, which are from what the OFCCP called the “Mad Men” era (1970’s), up to date.

The OFCCP published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on January 30, 2015 and received 553 comments on the proposed rule.   The Final Rule will take effect on August 15, 2016. Continue Reading OFCCP Issues Final Rule Updating Sex Discrimination Guidelines

That’s an eye-catcher of a title, isn’t it? As reported by the New York Times, Babeland, an adult toy store, became the first sex shop to become unionized. Workers at three New York City locations voted to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, one of the country’s largest retail unions.vienna-2-1552451

Why did they choose to unionize? There were several typical reasons – wanting more transparency around hiring, promotions and discipline, as well as better ways of addressing workplace disputes and grievances.

But there were some other, less typical reasons. One is the customers. I’m sure you aren’t surprised to hear that Babeland’s customers can be, well, difficult. Some of them seem to believe that it’s ok to sexually harass sex shop workers. The workers want management to provide better training and support in dealing with these folks. Continue Reading Sex Shop Workers Unionize

In a perplexing – if not shocking – decision, the National Labor Relations Board determined that there is substantial difference between an employee having the opportunity to vote in a mail ballot election, and his or her vote in fact being counted.

In Premier Utility Services, LLC, the employer, a utility company with 101 employees living and working in New York City’s five boroughs, participated in a mail ballot election from October 20 to November 4, 2015 to determine whether Communications Workers of America, Local 1101 would represent the petitioned-for employees.  However, as of November 4, 2015, the NLRB Regional Office had received only four (!) ballots.  As a result, the parties postponed the tally of ballots until November 12, 2015, a somewhat usual departure from the NLRB’s usual election procedures.  By November 12, 2015, the NLRB only received 34 ballots out of the possible 101.  Nevertheless, the Region counted the ballots and the Union received a majority of the votes counted, 20-14.Mail

Following the count, the NLRB Regional office received an additional 55 ballots, including 48 ballots that were postmarked before November 4, the end of the original voting period.  The Regional Director, however, refused to count the 48 ballots that were postmarked before November 4 because they were received after November 12.  As a result, the union was certified as the bargaining representative based on only 34 votes out of 101 eligible voters, even though a large number of additional ballots had been timely mailed!!!

Continue Reading NLRB Refuses to Count Timely-Mailed Ballots

dollar_sign_imageOn May 17, 2016, the Department of Labor announced the release of its long-awaited revisions to its overtime exemption rule. The new rule doubles the salary requirement for white collar (executive, administrative and professional) employees from $23,660 per year ($455 per week) to $47,476 per year ($913 per week).  The required minimum salary for the highly compensated employees’ exemption also has been raised from $100,000 to $134,004. These salary levels will be subject to automatic adjustments every three years. The new rule does not change the duties test for any of the exemptions. It will take effect on December 1, 2016. Our firm will be holding a complimentary webinar on Wednesday, May 25 to discuss the changes and offer practical suggestions on how to comply with the new rules. Continue Reading NEW OVERTIME RULE

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On a related note to my previous post on pet bereavement leave, my daughter told me about another leave available to those dog-crazy folks in the U.K – “paw-ternity leave.” (Which is very different than “peternity” leave – another name for pet bereavement leave!) Essentially, this type of leave is a maternity/paternity leave for pets.

As first reported by the Mirror, a research study by pet insurance provider Petplan found that almost 1 in 20 new pet owners in the U.K. are offered “paw-ternity” leave by their employers. This leave can be used to settle in and care for a new pet, vet appointments, training, etc. It ranges from a few hours to a few weeks, and is provided in addition to the worker’s usual vacation leave allotment. The article specifically identifies two different companies that formally provide this type of leave – pet food manufacturer Mars Petcare and IT company Bitsol Solutions. Continue Reading “Paw-ternity” Leave?

male-709687_640This week, the EEOC issued a Fact Sheet regarding Bathroom Access Rights for Transgender Employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which the EEOC has stated prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  Title VII applies to all federal, state, and local government agencies in their capacity as employers, and to all private employers with 15 or more employees.

In siding with other federal government agencies that have released similar guidance (OSHA, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Education), the EEOC stated that an employer should allow an employee to use the bathroom that corresponds with the employee’s gender identity. Continue Reading The EEOC’s Fact Sheet on Transgender Access to Bathrooms