For several years we have watched the National Labor Relations Board take ever-more aggressive positions that (in our view) ignore the realities of the modern-day workplace and business operations (or really, common sense). Think handbook cases, Facebook cases, email cases….. you get the picture. Republican members of the Board have vehemently protested the actions of the Democratic majority, to no avail. So with the change to a Republican administration and the recent appointment of the sole Republican Board member – Philip Miscimarra – first to the Acting Chairman and now regular Chairman role, we had great expectations that the Board would return to a more balanced (i.e. sane) perspective. Continue Reading A Battle for the Soul of the NLRB?
Readers of this blog likely know the first reference. But, how about the second? Give yourself a hand if you said “Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel (GC) of the National Labor Relations Board.” GC Griffin, a holdover from the Obama administration, decided last week that the new Trump administration was not going to have all the fun in Washington, D.C. What is it that GC Griffin did, you ask? Well, he decided that your favorite running back from Stanford, or that dynamic wide receiver from Northwestern, are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, entitled to full protection under the Act! Continue Reading Are College Football Players Employees? The NLRB General Counsel Thinks So!
DOL’s Attempt to Interfere with Attorney-Client Relationships Blocked by Texas Court
Back in March of this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) tried to interfere with employers’ confidential communications with their attorneys. Some law firms surrendered, ran, or hid, saying they would no longer have the kinds of conversations DOL wanted to interfere with. Shawe Rosenthal, along with other Worklaw Network firms, stood up and fought. We filed a lawsuit against the DOL to protect our clients’ interests and maintain the integrity of the attorney-client relationship. Two similar lawsuits were filed against the DOL, and in one of them, employers can consider themselves victorious following an Order from a United States District Court in Texas holding the DOL’s new rule unlawful and setting it aside. Continue Reading DOL’s Attempt to Interfere with Attorney-Client Relationships Blocked by Texas Court
A federal judge in Texas has issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the Department of Labor’s revised overtime exemption rule from taking effect as scheduled on December 1, 2016.
As discussed in our May 18, 2016 E-lert, in order to be exempt from overtime, a white-collar employee must meet three tests: (1) the salary basis test – the employee must be paid on a salary basis, not subject to reductions for fluctuations in quantity or quality of work; (2) the salary level test – the employee’s salary must currently be at least $455 per week (equaling $23,660 per year); and (3) a duties test – the employee must perform certain duties specific to the executive, administrative or professional exemption in question. There is also a highly-compensated employee exemption under which an employee must currently make at least $100,000 per year and perform at least one exempt duty. Continue Reading Overtime Rule Will Not Take Effect On December 1
As a die-hard management-side labor and employment attorney who has been frustrated with the recent flood of anti-employer decisions coming out of the National Labor Relations Board, I enjoy those infrequent moments when a union experiences a little of that pain – such as in the recent case of Laborers Union Local 91.
To give a little background, all employees (whether unionized or not) have the right under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to engage in concerted activity regarding the terms and conditions of employment for their “mutual aid or protection.” The Board has issued a number of rulings finding that employees’ social media activity (e.g. Facebook posts and likes, and tweets) criticizing, disparaging, and otherwise describing their employers in ways I (and many others) would find offensive is protected under Section 7. (Meaning that the employer cannot discipline or terminate the employee for engaging in seemingly inappropriate behavior against the employer). Unions, of course, have been supportive of these decisions. But it appears that at least one of them did not realize the same rule applies to unions. Continue Reading Union Violates Employee’s Right to Engage in Protected Social Media Activity
As I mentioned in a recent post, “SEIU Fights Its Own Unionization,” the Service Employees International Union has been behind the push at the National Labor Relations Board to extend joint employer status to franchisors, like McDonald’s (meaning that McDonald’s would be deemed an employer of its franchisees’ employees). And now, it is further extending this push – to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On October 5, 2016, (as first reported by The Guardian) Fight for $15 (which is backed and funded by SEIU) announced that it had helped 15 McDonald’s employees (who are also Fight for $15 activists, unsurprisingly) file charges with the EEOC, claiming that they had been sexually harassed by their employers. Apparently only one of the charges was filed against a corporate McDonald’s store – the rest were filed jointly against franchisee stores and McDonald’s Corporation. Continue Reading SEIU Expands Joint Employment Fight to the EEOC
Following my post last week on the EEOC’s latest pronouncement on independent contractor status, it seemed appropriate to follow up with the National Labor Relations Board’s most recent activity on this issue. The Board’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) released an advice memorandum in which it first reviews the Board’s test for independent contractor status (which is, of course, different than that of the EEOC) and then goes on to assert that the misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. (Curiously, it appears that the OGC actually issued the memo in a pending case, Pacific 9 Transportation Inc., back on December 18, 2015, but it only recently released it to the public on August 26, 2016. I suppose that the Board realized that this is an issue of significant interest to employers!) Continue Reading NLRB on Independent Contractor Status
As I’ve made clear in past posts, I am increasingly frustrated with the current National Labor Relations Board’s clearly pro-union, anti-employer approach. I find many of their decisions to have little or no relationship to common sense or logic. So I found a concurring opinion by Judge Patricia Millett in the recent case of Consolidated Communications, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board to be of particular interest, as she expresses her “substantial concern with the too-often cavalier and enabling approach that the Board’s decisions have taken toward the sexually and racially demeaning misconduct of some employees during strikes.” Judge Millet goes on to say, “These decisions have repeatedly given refuge to conduct that is not only intolerable by any standard of decency, but also illegal in every other corner of the workplace.” (!!!!) Continue Reading Why Does the NLRB Tolerate Racist and Sexist Conduct?
As many of you may have heard and as we discussed in our August E-Update, last week in The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, the National Labor Relations Board reversed a twelve-year precedent in holding that student teaching and research assistants at private universities are statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act and can therefore unionize.
There has been a flurry of employee-friendly decisions issued by the Labor Board in recent weeks to coincide with – not surprisingly – the conclusion of Member Hirozawa’s three-year term on August 27, 2016. This case, however, irks me more than most. The Majority stated that preventing graduate assistants the right to unionize “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the [NLRA] without a convincing jurisdiction” because, according to the Majority, “even when such an economic component may seem comparatively slight, relative to other aspects of the relationship between worker and employer, the payment of compensation, in conjunction with the employer’s control, suffices to establish an employment relationship for purposes of the Act.” And yet, in 2004, the Labor Board reached a contrary conclusion – that graduate assistants are not statutory employees who have the right to unionize, because the Labor Board acknowledged that graduate assistants have a primarily academic, not economic, relationship with their universities. So what’s changed? That is a rhetorical question. Obviously, nothing has changed, but the make-up of the Labor Board and its current desire to expand the reach of the Act. Continue Reading The NLRB Changes Its Mind Again
In 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.