The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) announced a Final Rule on joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act that retreats from the broad expansion of the joint employment principle in recent years and returns to its prior, more restrictive standard, which it describes as “carefully balanced.” This Rule will take effect on April 27, 2020.

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As I discussed in a blog post last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been bringing cases on behalf of applicants/employees who use lawfully prescribed opioids (including methadone) against employers who fail to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant/employee to determine whether those drugs made them unqualified for the position. In EEOC v. Steel Painters LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer did just that.

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And with that obvious (and rather snarky) statement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit made the obvious point that an employee who was asleep or unconscious on the job was unable to perform the essential functions of his job and therefore not qualified for the position under the Americans with Disabilities Act! Now, as my regular readers know, I enjoy a good snark and my blog posts about various court decisions often contain snide comments. But in this case, the (usually quite proper) Fifth Circuit took care of that all on its own…

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On January 30, 2020, the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Ban the Box” bill that was passed in the last legislative session, just as we predicted in our veto E-lert. The law will prohibit employers in Maryland from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until later in the application process. It takes effect on February 29, 2020, and Maryland employers should prepare now to comply with the new requirements.

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Pronouns – those articles of speech referring to the person other than by name – have become complicated. My law firm writes a lot (articles for L&E publications, monthly electronic E-Updates, E-Lerts to report actionable “new stuff” and, of course, this blog). In the “old days” we used the pronoun “he” as the universal. Then, in defiance of the “patriarchy” the term he/she or (s)he was substituted. We came to recognize that the language we use impacts attitudes about “who belongs.” 

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that an employee unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job must be in want of a transfer. And it is also quite clear under the Americans with Disabilities Act that the employer must consider a transfer or reassignment to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation. What is less clear is whether the employee automatically gets the position (i.e. an arranged marriage) or whether the employer can require the employee to compete for the position (see, e.g. “The Bachelor”).

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In Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar cried out “Et Tu Brute?” – translated “Even you Brutus?” – as he lay dying from the assassin’s sword that had been plunged into his chest by his friend and confidant, Marcus Brutus.  These words came to mind as I read an article about a sordid tale of rampant sexual misconduct by SEIU officials. Even them???

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The National Labor Relations Board issued on December 17 two decisions that are sure to put employers in the holiday spirit. In a long-awaited decision, the Board overturned Purple Communications and held that employers have the right to control the use of their e-mail and IT systems to restrict employee union and protected concerted activity. In a second decision, the Board determined that an employer work rule requiring confidentiality during an employer investigation is lawful to maintain.
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