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!

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

DOLEmployers rejoice! The Trump administration continues to roll back the anti-business positions asserted by various federal agencies under the Obama administration, as most recently evidenced by the Department of Labor’s June 7, 2017 withdrawal of two Administrator Interpretations on joint employment and independent contractor status. Continue Reading DOL Withdraws Guidance Documents on Joint Employment and Independent Contractor Status

IMG_0095So I just heard about this official event, which has apparently existed since 1999! Granted, until 5 years ago, I didn’t have a dog and, in fact, couldn’t stand them, so this would not have been on my radar screen. Some of you may know from past posts (Sick Leave for Your Dog?,  Pet Bereavement Leave? and “Paw-ternity” Leave?) that I now adore my dog. Nonetheless, I’m not sure that I fully agree with the idea of bringing pets into a normally pet-free workplace… Continue Reading Take Your Dog to Work Day!

question-mark-xxlAs you may know, I am a die-hard management-side attorney. Typically, I cheer on federal courts that rule in favor of employers – but there are the rare occasions where I think the court gets it unquestionably, unutterably wrong. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit’s decision in Abdel-Ghani v. Target Corp. is one of these.

In this case, the plaintiff, a Palestinian immigrant, was employed by a third party, MarketSource, to work at a mobile phone sales kiosk at a Target store. He only worked there for about two months before he was terminated. During his employment, he did not get along with the MarketSource sales manager at that store, and at one point she supposedly told him, “Go back home, go to your country.” In addition, the plaintiff alleged that Target employees (from behind shelves) called him names such as camel jockey, Muslim, Arab, terrorist, and sand nigger, and that this occurred at least ten times during the two months of his employment. Also, he overheard another employee say, “[y]ou should be rounded up in one place and nuke[d].” He was terminated, ostensibly for issues with the sales manager, Target employees and guests. He then sued MarketSource and Target under Title VII for subjecting him to a hostile work environment and national origin discrimination, among other things. Continue Reading “Go Back to Your Country” Is Not Evidence of National Origin Discrimination?

get outI know that many employers feel hamstrung by the Family and Medical Leave Act’s statutory protections for employees. They can’t do much about the significant negative effects on business operations because of an employee’s unscheduled intermittent FMLA leave, for example. And FMLA abuse is sometimes (if not often) suspected but hard to prove. Many employees seem to view FMLA as a “get out of jail free” card that insulates them from discipline for bad behavior that is related in any way to FMLA – and a literal example of this can be found in the recent case of Capps v. Mondelez Global LLC. Continue Reading FMLA Is Not A “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card!