As a follow up to Fiona Ong’s blog post detailing the highly disturbing (but sadly not surprising) treatment[1] of an associate who interviewed for and accepted a new position while on parental leave, this blog post focuses on how employers can best support their employees who have taken parental leave—both those who have given birth and those who take caregiving leave and are adjusting to new responsibilities as a parent. As an employment lawyer and mom who returned to full-time work after having three children, here are some tips to support your new parents in the workplace.

Continue Reading Maternity Leave ≠ Sitting on Your Ass: Part II

I’ve previously written about an employer’s obligation to accommodate service or emotional support animals in the workplace, as well as guidelines the employer should consider if it finds itself on the receiving end of such a request.  At the time of that blog post, the EEOC had filed suit in the Northern District of Iowa alleging that a national trucking conglomerate failed to accommodate, refused to hire, and then retaliated against a veteran truck driver because he used a service dog, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (The ADA both prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to such employees to enable them to perform their essential job functions or enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment.) That case ultimately resulted in a negotiated settlement and consent decree in March 2019.  More recently, in July 2022, the EEOC filed suit against arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby alleging that it violated the ADA by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations and by terminating a cashier who relied upon a service dog to assist her with symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

Continue Reading Support/Service Animals in the Workplace – What Should Employers Do?

So some of you may have seen the recent uproar over a senior (labor and employment) attorney’s text message to an associate who found another job while she was on maternity leave. Many, including me, found the text to be wildly offensive and inappropriate. And because I’m a nerd, I also found a lot of lessons for employers.

Continue Reading Maternity Leave ≠ Sitting on Your Ass

So I know that many companies are (appropriately!) focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts. Some may be frustrated at the slow pace of change, and may wish to pursue those goals more aggressively – but that (ironically) can result in violations of anti-discrimination laws, as I discussed in a prior blog post, Hey CEOs – Be Careful About Diversity Hiring Quotas. A recent case provides another example of when trying too hard to fix one problem can create new ones.

Continue Reading Firing Employees to Increase Diversity Is Perhaps Not the Best Plan…

Five years after the #MeToo movement took shape, we are seeing an interesting trend in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge data:  the number of Charges of Discrimination (charges) filed since fiscal year (FY) 2016 are down—significantly. There were 30,000 fewer charges in FY 2021 than in FY 2016. While I expected to see a drop in charges correlating to the pandemic and rise in remote work, it was somewhat surprising to see the trend of declining charges actually began much earlier.

Continue Reading Where Have All the Charges Gone?[1]

A Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board found merit to an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the University of Southern California (USC) misclassified football and basketball players as student-athletes rather than employees and maintained unlawful work rules. In addition, the Complaint will allege the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA are joint employers of the USC athletes. The charge was filed on behalf of the athletes by the National College Players Association, a college athlete advocacy group. Continue Reading Are College Athletes “Employees” Under Federal Labor Law? We Are About to Find Out…

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) took significant steps to limit the power of property owners to restrict contractors’ workers access to their property in a 3-2 decision on Friday. In Bexar County II, the Board reverted to the test articulated in New York New York Hotel & Casino, 356 NLRB 907 (2011), concluding that property owners may only restrict access by contractors’ workers when the workers’ activities “significantly interfere” with the use of the property, or where the property owner has “another legitimate business reason” to remove them from their property.

Continue Reading The NLRB’s Reinstatement of a Worker-Friendly Standard for Property Access

On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) reaffirmed its Johnnie’s Poultry standard for analyzing an employer’s questioning of employees in preparation for NLRB proceedings. Employers must provide a list of assurances to employees and the failure to recite even one of the assurances shall render such questioning per se (or automatically) unlawful. Continue Reading NLRB Reaffirms Safeguards for Questioning Employees in Preparation for NLRB Proceedings

As we predicted when President Biden took office, the National Labor Relations Board has now returned to an Obama-era standard that permits a union to organize in as small a unit as it has support (i.e., micro-units). This continues the Biden administration’s trend of easing the path to unionization.

Continue Reading The Return of the Micro-Unit: The NLRB Shifts Course Yet Again

On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board issued a wide-reaching decision expanding the remedies available to workers subjected to unfair labor practices by either unionized or non-union employers.  In Thryv, Inc., the Board stated it will add compensation “for all direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms” to its customary “make-whole” remedy, which typically has consisted of back pay along with reinstatement. The Board will consider “all direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms” in any case that calls for relief to make employees whole for unfair labor practices, not just egregious violations.  The Board, however, declined to extend make-whole relief to pain and suffering or emotional distress, as advocated by its General Counsel, or to front pay, compensation for legal fees, or heightened bargaining remedies, as sought by other interested entities through amici (i.e. “friend of the court”) briefs.

Continue Reading NLRB Expands its Make Whole Remedy to Include “Direct or Foreseeable” Financial Harms