Practitioners of labor law know that the 5-member panel comprising the National Labor Relations Board is appointed by the President of the United States. The Board majority (three members) are from the President’s party and the remaining two members are from the other party. As the administration changes, so does the Board majority. Continue Reading Recuse Me? Why the NLRB’s Order Vacating the Hy-Brand Decision Should Not Stand

In a previous post about pet bereavement leave, I noted that the Family and Medical Leave Act does not provide leave to care for an ill or dying pet. (Because a pet is not technically a family member. Really. Despite how we pet-owners feel about our fur babies. That’s mine in the picture.) But I also said that, “if an employee becomes depressed because of the death of a pet, it is possible that this could rise to the level of a disability that would require a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or a serious health condition for which leave must be granted under the [Family and Medical Leave Act].” I further noted, however, that most people may experience grief but not become clinically depressed as the result of a pet’s death. So my interest was piqued by a recent case in which the employee claimed that his insomnia following his dog’s death was a serious health condition under the FMLA. Continue Reading No FMLA for Pet’s Death

Apple has a new $5 billion headquarters building on its campus in Cupertino, California.  It was constructed from the imagination of iconic founder, Steve Jobs, who envisioned the structure with its glass-encased interior and exterior rings as a true “temple of design” (according to the San Francisco Chronicle).  In fact, architecture and interior design often are aspirational.  We construct spaces to reflect not who we are, but who we would like to be, to elevate us from the clutter of our messy lives to a higher plateau.  We seek feng shui – uplifting energy.  Sometimes, however, concept clashes with real life (like when I realized my amazing new master bathroom with the walk in shower and granite counters had no place to hang hand towels; my interior designer thought that towel rings would interrupt the feng shui).
Continue Reading Does Apple’s New HQ Violate OSHA?

When you are an employment lawyer, you tend to view events through a particular lens.  Recently, I had my “ADA specs” on when I read an article about a Duke University professor who, in discussing her book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” made a remark about Libertarians during a book tour.   She opined how she found it “striking … how many of the architects of this cause seem to be on the autism spectrum,”  The professor, Nancy MacLean, continued, “You know, people who don’t feel solidarity or empathy with others and who have difficult human relationships sometimes.” (You can read the story here.)  Continue Reading Along the Spectrum

The National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel recently issued an Advice Memorandum and, although the employer and employee names are blanked out, it obviously is about James Damore and Google. Unless you have been in the wilds of Pago Pago for a year, you have heard the story of James Damore, the “Googler” (that’s what they call themselves at Google) who, in response to one too many company diversity training initiatives, prepared a memo to convey his thoughts and engage in open dialogue. Continue Reading NLRB GC Is Woke! (In more ways than one…)

Employers struggle with the challenges of social media platforms that allow employees to post information, complaints, and even disclose confidential company information on an anonymous basis. Often, the information is false or misleading – but employers usually find little recourse, as we’ve discussed in a previous post, Employee Warning – GlassDoor Posts May Not Always Be Anonymous (in which we discuss the rare case where the employer triumphs). This week, CNN Money reported on another new app, “Blind,” for employees to make these anonymous postings. Continue Reading Another Anonymous Employee Posting App? Watch Out!

My world shifted slightly last week, when a federal court in Texas ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not enforce its Enforcement Guidance on “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” After all, for years now I had looked to this Guidance as the EEOC’s definitive position on the use of criminal background records, particularly in hiring. I had referred clients to it, provided legal advice based on it, cited it in articles and presentations…. But now? Continue Reading No Enforcement of the EEOC’s Criminal Background Check Guidance?

Emojis and emoticons, which we all use to add flavor and emotion to dry, text based communication on our phones, emails, or Facebook messages, have become points of contention in a variety of legal disputes. (For those of us not in the know, emoticons are created from a standard computer keyboard while emojis are more commonly used when texting or using social media.) This phenomenon should not be too surprising, as there are now an estimated 2,600 emojis (and counting) and they are so commonly used that emojis even had their own feature film this summer, The Emoji Movie (albeit to questionable reviews). Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Let Your Emojis Get the Best of You

Today, January 23, 2018, Senator “Mac” Middleton filed a bill to postpone for 60 days the enforcement of Maryland’s new sick and safe leave (SSL) law by the state Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Given the law’s effective date of February 11, 2018, this means that enforcement would begin on April 12, 2018. We strongly note, however, that compliance – including the commencement of SSL accrual – is still required as of the February 11 effective date. Continue Reading More On Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave – Enforcement Delay and Collective Bargaining Agreements

Here we are again on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time, during the 2013 federal government shutdown, we provided a summary of the shutdown contingency plans for the major employment-related agencies – the Department of Labor (DOL) (which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage-Hour Division (WHD)), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  So we thought we’d provide you with an updated summary of these plans, which set forth what the agencies will and will not do if there is an actual shutdown. Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2018 Edition