Once upon a time, employees in all states but Montana (always bucking the establishment!) were presumed to be employed at-will, absent some sort of employment agreement (e.g. individual contract for a term, a collective bargaining agreement, policies that contemplate termination for cause, etc.). That means that either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or even no reason (as long as it’s not illegal – like, say, discrimination or retaliation). And so our well-meaning but foolish Employer is terribly excited by that principle because they want to get rid of an Employee. But … as with all good fairy tales, there is a dark side.Continue Reading At-Will Employment Is a Fairy Tale…
On November 2, 2023, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo provided guidance to inquiries received by the NLRB in the wake of the Board’s decision in Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC (which we wrote about here). In summary, the Board’s decision in Cemex established a new standard for the steps to be taken by an employer that receives a union’s demand for recognition, and the consequences facing an employer that violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) after receiving a demand for recognition – specifically, the likelihood that the Board will order the employer to bargain with the union, even if the employer did not extend voluntary recognition to the union and the union did not prevail in a NLRB-administered election.Continue Reading NLRB GC Issues Guidance Regarding Board Decision Impacting Employer Responses to Demands for Voluntary Recognition
Well I think we all recognize that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created some seismic shifts in the way things can be done, including in the workplace (and I covered many of the risks and concerns of generative AI for employers in our June 2023 E-Update). Governments at all levels are taking action to try to put guardrails on the use of AI. And now, President Biden has signed an Executive Order on “Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence,” as summarized in a Fact Sheet. This is a wide-ranging EO, but one of the areas it specifically addresses is the impact on workers. Continue Reading What Impact Will President Biden’s AI Executive Order Have in the Workplace?
Many companies blissfully believe that they don’t have to worry about the National Labor Relations Act or its enforcing agency, the National Labor Relations Board, as long as they don’t have a union and no one is currently trying to unionize them. They’re wrong. Terribly wrong. Horribly, astoundingly, insanely wrong. And ignoring an order from the Board can have serious consequences – including being taken into custody by U.S. Marshals, as the Board made very clear in a recent press release!Continue Reading Refusing to Comply with an NLRB Order Can Land Employers in Handcuffs (Even If You’re Not Unionized)
Once again we are poised on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time this happened in 2018, 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), the Wage-Hour Division (WHD) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)), 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 will happen if there is an actual shutdown.Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2023 Edition
In my blog post last week, It’s Football (Unionizing) Season…, I tackled the topic of whether football players who receive athletic scholarships to play for a private college or university might be considered employees – and then have the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. As I explained, the National Labor Relations Board seems to be moving the ball towards a finding that those who receive scholarships are thus being paid to provide sports services to the school, meaning that they are employees. But, as my partner Mark Swerdlin noted in a previous blog post , this approach means that non-scholarship players are penalized because they are not being paid and therefore cannot be employees. Unless, as he suggested (with tongue firmly in cheek), they sue for unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act… Continue Reading Wait – College Football Players Really Are Suing for Pay?
Well, my family’s favorite SEC team (Bama) is off to a discouraging start, so I am looking around for other entertainment – and the Dartmouth basketball team just came through with a pass at the National Labor Relations Board.Continue Reading It’s Football (Unionizing) Season…
As most of us know, Hollywood is striking (or more specifically, the members of the writers’ and actors’ unions). Some of you may have seen media reports, like this CNN article, about the unions filing unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board over unsafe picketing conditions. Which may cause some of you to wonder – what is an employer’s responsibility with respect to those conditions? Continue Reading Are Employers Supposed to Protect Striking Employees?
In a move that surprised absolutely no one, the National Labor Relations Board has reversed course on yet another issue – the standard for determining whether an individual is an employee, who is subject to the National Labor Relations Act, or an independent contractor, who is not. The Board’s decision will once again make it harder to establish independent contractor status.Continue Reading U-Turn! NLRB’s “Modified” Independent Contractor Standard Favors Findings of Employee Status
Following the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed near-total ban on non-compete agreements, which we wrote about here, and an increasing number of state laws limiting or banning such agreements, another federal agency official is piling on. On May 30, 2023, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo expressing her position that noncompete agreements violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, GC Abruzzo asserts that noncompete agreements chill employees’ exercise of rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the NLRA unless the noncompete agreement is “narrowly tailored to address special circumstances” that justify the interference with employees’ Section 7 rights. Absent narrow tailoring to address special circumstances, GC Abruzzo contends that proffering, maintaining, or enforcing noncompete agreements violates the NLRA.Continue Reading The NLRB General Counsel Joins the War on Noncompete Agreements