On November 2, 2022, a federal judge in Boston barred Harvard University from using its $15 million litigation claims policy to cover legal expenses in connection with its admissions program lawsuit – because Harvard (yes, that hallowed Ivy League institution, full of very smart people) neglected to give timely notice of the claim. Yikes!
Well, the 2022 World Cup is finally underway in Qatar. Although professional soccer does not drive quite the same amount of interest among the U.S. populace as, say, football (Go Ravens!) or basketball, the World Cup is still one of the major sporting events in the world – and there are likely many employees who are following it rather closely. And unlike last time in 2018, the U.S. team has qualified for the tournament, so there may be some patriotism at play here. So we thought we might offer employers some guidance on World Cup issues in the workplace.
So, many people, including my son, are rejoicing because the voters in Maryland approved recreational marijuana (which Maryland refers to as “cannabis”) last week. Employers, however, are perhaps not quite so excited – and may be confused about what that actually means for the workplace. While we don’t yet have all the answers, let’s talk about what we do know.
In an expected move, the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would rescind a final rule issued in April 2020 (the 2020 Rule), which we discussed here. The proposed rule, titled the “Fair Choice and Employee Voice” rule, would enact policies that would insulate a union’s status as employees’ bargaining representative by (1) reviving “blocking charge” procedures, (2) reinstating an immediate “recognition bar,” and (3) allowing unions in the construction industry to obtain an enhanced representational status through contract language alone and without ever having to demonstrate support by a majority of the employees it represents.
Is the playing of obscene and misogynistic rap music in the workplace discriminatory on the basis of sex if it offends women? A former Tesla employee has asked the U.S. District Court for Nevada to answer “yes” to that question after filing suit against her former employer alleging that, among other things, the obscene and misogynistic rap music, as well as the actions and statements made by her co-workers related to that music, amounted to sexual harassment.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am always curious as to how things turn out. But often as an employment lawyer, I am left in a state of ignorance. I give advice to employers on what to do in tricky situations, but don’t always hear whether my advice was implemented (I certainly hope so!) or what resulted (good things, hopefully!). And often I wonder what happens to the parties in high-profile cases – like Bostock v. Clayton County, one of a trio of cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” in employment encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the latest salvo in the battle over the classification of workers as independent contractors or employees, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the publication of a new proposed interpretation. The final document set forth in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will not be an actual rule or regulation, because the DOL has no statutory authority to define the distinction between independent contractors and employees in a way that is binding on courts. Rather, the interpretation is published as a guide as to how the Department will enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act, and in the hope that courts will defer to the DOL’s views on the subject.
Take note, unionized employers: the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) held on Monday that employers violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when, following expiration of the parties’ collective-bargaining agreement (“CBA”), they unilaterally cease deducting and remitting employee union dues to the union pursuant to contractual dues checkoff provisions. The 3-2 decision in Valley Hospital Medical Center (”Valley Hospital II”), split along partisan lines, is the next in what should be a steady stream of union-friendly decisions likely to be issued by the Biden Board in the coming months.
Being “on the spectrum” is a pretty common way of referring to individuals with autism (although my husband, a doctor, had never heard of that. Where has he been? Granted, he’s a pathologist, so doesn’t deal directly with live patients, but nonetheless…). Of course, there are varying degrees of severity of symptoms, and some people with social communication or interaction challenges do not actually have autism spectrum disorder. But these symptoms can pose challenges for those individuals in the workplace – and for their employers as well.
As many employers sadly know, those retaliation claims can be more problematic than a discrimination or harassment claim. Federal and state discrimination laws protect employees not only from discrimination or harassment, but also from retaliation for opposing discrimination/harassment, or making a charge/complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in any way in a discrimination proceeding, such as an investigation or lawsuit. Often an employer successfully defends against an underlying claim of discrimination, only to lose on the retaliation claim.