In its unpublished decision in Bloomsburg Care and Rehabilitation Center, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) expressed a willingness to reconsider, and likely expand, what constitutes an alleged supervisor’s ability to “effectively recommend” discipline. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that if an individual performs one of several functions, including the ability to discipline, or can “effectively recommend” one of these functions (e.g., discipline or hire), the individual is a supervisor. Under current law, which was applied by one of the Board’s Regional Directors, the Board will not find that an individual effectively recommends discipline if the recommendation is reviewed or independently investigated by upper management.

Continue Reading NLRB To Expand Definition of Effective Recommendation of Discipline?

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. Continue Reading The NLRB Provides Two More Gifts – Employers May Restrict Nonbusiness Use of E-Mail, Require Confidentiality During Investigations

This is a new entry in our occasional series on extremely bad behavior by employees. I am constantly amazed by the lack of awareness and judgment exhibited by employees in the workplace. I was baffled when I read Hennessey v. Dollar Bank, FSB, a case in which a Caucasian employee at Dollar Bank was terminated when, over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, he hung a brown monkey from the ceiling of a workspace utilized by African American employees.

Continue Reading Extraordinary Employee Misconduct: Monkeying Around in the Workplace!

NLRB Delivers A “Holiday Gift” To Employers: New Union Election Timelines

On December 13, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a final rule revising the Obama-era union election procedures (known as “R-Case” rules). The revision to the procedures will become effective 120 days from its publication in the Federal Register next week.

Continue Reading NLRB Delivers A “Holiday Gift” To Employers: New Union Election Timelines

On December 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a revised interpretation listing payments that can be excluded from the “regular rate” used to compute overtime pay for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The DOL also issued a Fact Sheet and Highlights on this revised interpretation.

Continue Reading Department Of Labor Issues Final Rule On Regular Rate Exclusions From Overtime Calculations

Several years ago, I blogged about Emeryville, California’s paid sick leave ordinance, which  is the only sick leave law that allows employees to take leave specifically to care for a sick service animal. As I noted then, “[t]he concept makes sense – employees can take sick leave because they (or their family member) is temporarily incapacitated because of the illness of the [service animal]. (Not because the dog is a family member!).” I also wondered whether other jurisdictions would adopt similar provisions. But now, I’m not sure they have to.

Continue Reading Sick Leave for Service Animals?

Most human resources folks know that, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take leave to care for a child with a serious health condition, and that the FMLA defines “child” as being under the age of 18. But what some perhaps don’t realize is the  FMLA has an additional definition of “child”: one over 18 years who  is “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” And even if they’re aware of that definition, they may not understand that the disability can be quite temporary in nature. A recent case, Gibson v. New York State Office of Mental Health, clearly makes this point.

Continue Reading FMLA to Care for Adult Child?

In a study published in 2000, two professors – one from Princeton, the other from Harvard –concluded that blind auditions exponentially increased the probability of female musicians being selected for seats on major symphony orchestras. In blind auditions, musicians play from behind screens, thus removing the distraction of the person, including the person’s race, age or (the focus of the study) gender. The study collected data from eight symphony orchestras over four decades. The problem is, according to a Wall Street Journal article, the data presented a “tangle of contradictory trends” that did not support the unequivocal bottom line presented by the authors. Indeed, “[t]he paper includes multiple warnings about small sample sizes, contradictory results and failures to pass standard tests of statistical significance. But few readers seem to have noticed. What caught everyone’s attention was a big claim in the final paragraph.”

Continue Reading Behind the Blind Selection Screen

Last week, Montgomery County, Maryland became the first jurisdiction in the Mid-Atlantic area to ban discrimination—including in the workplace—based on natural hairstyle. The bill expands the definition of race to include “traits historically associated with race,” which includes “hair texture and protective hairstyles.” Specific hairstyles articulated in the legislation include braids, locs, Afros, curls and twists, which are often associated with African American or Latino individuals.

Continue Reading A new protected class in Montgomery County: Natural Hairstyle

My interest is piqued by laws with unusual twists, like the Emeryville, California ordinance that permits the use of sick leave to care for a family member’s service animal (about which I blogged previously). Here’s another one – Pittsburgh recently passed a pregnancy accommodations ordinance that extends protections to the partners of pregnant employees!

Continue Reading Pregnancy Protections for Partners?