On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.” Therefore, Maryland employers are now required to provide paid “earned sick and safe” (ESS) leave to employees to use for themselves and to care for their family members. This law is currently scheduled to take effect on February 11, 2018, but Senator Middleton stated that they may be seeking an extension to make the law effective after 90 days instead. We will be holding a complimentary webinar to further discuss compliance with this new law, but we summarize its detailed requirements and obligations, as follows:
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Earle K. Shawe, the founder of our firm, passed away on June 30, 2017, at age 104. Earle was present during the infancy of the modern labor law movement in the 1930s, and left his mark throughout the subsequent decades of his practice – truly a giant in the field of labor law.

Earle was a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School – an institution to which he remained devoted throughout his life. In 1996, he endowed the Earle K. Shawe Professorship in Employment Law at the school.
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no unionsOne of my partners, Liz Torphy-Donzella, recently sent me an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal that amused me so much, I had to share it. Entitled “Big Labor’s McDonald’s Defense,” the article remarks on the fact that the Service Employees International Union, one of the most prominent unions in the United States, is fighting efforts to unionize it! (Whaaaat?!!) But wait, there’s more – although the SEIU funds the “Fight for $15” campaign, which seeks to increase the hourly minimum wage rate to $15, it pays its “Fight for $15” staff less than $15 an hour!!! (Let’s pause for a moment to let that sink in, shall we?)

And irony piles upon irony. As you may know, a major target of the “Fight for $15” is McDonalds. On the “Fight for $15” About Us webpage, McDonald’s is the only “low-wage” employer mentioned by name. And according to the Wall Street Journal article, “SEIU claims that it should be able to organize all McDonald’s workers everywhere across the country as a single bargaining unit.”
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Imagine this: Your cobook 2mpany has policies in your employee handbook determined to be unlawful by the NLRB.  Then, you and the NLRB engage in a line-by-line revision of the policies to ensure compliance with Board law and thereafter you issue a new handbook, with policies approved by the Board, to your employees.  Everything is ok, right? Wrong!  This is exactly what occurred in Boch Imports, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board.  In affirming the NLRB, the First Circuit determined that the Employer failed to properly repudiate its prior, unlawful handbook policies even though it revised those policies in collaboration with the NLRB Regional Office.
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2000px-Venus_symbol.svgOn Tuesday (June 14, 2016) of this week, the White House Council on Women and Girls together with the Department of State, Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation held the Summit on the United State of Women.   On that same day, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Final Rule updating the OFCCP’s sex discrimination guidelines.  According to the OFCCP’s Fact Sheet, the revisions were to bring the guidelines, which are from what the OFCCP called the “Mad Men” era (1970’s), up to date.

The OFCCP published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on January 30, 2015 and received 553 comments on the proposed rule.   The Final Rule will take effect on August 15, 2016.
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So, as I said in my last post, we have read this new persuader rule front to back and back to front. Last week, we told you why we are suing the government: the new interpretation is unfair and unlawful. This week, because the DOL went completely off the reservation, I thought we should poke a little fun at it for some of its ridiculous positions, so here goes.

DOL says it is interpreting the “advice” exemption, but it completely reconfigures the definition of persuasive activity. The statute refers to persuasive activity as activity with the direct or indirect object to persuade.  Somehow, DOL tangled itself in knots over this one. It now thinks that direct persuasive activity means the persuader has direct contact with employees and indirect persuasive activity means you do not have direct contact with employees. Do you see anything about that in the statute? Neither do I. That’s because it’s not there. The terms “direct” and “indirect” modify the objective, and have nothing to do with contact with employees. Obviously, you need to have contact with employees to directly or indirectly persuade them regarding their rights.

DOL’s rule conflates a principle put in place by the former rule, that persuaders need only report direct contact with employees, with the language in the statute, that activity with the direct or indirect object to persuade must be reported. In so doing, the DOL’s position is that all advice, which is expressly exempted from the reporting requirement, is now considered indirect persuasive activity that must be reported.


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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues on its journey to try to take over the world. On January 13, 2016, the Board issued a Notice and Invitation to File Briefs in Columbia University, a case that involves Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWU, UAW (the Petitioner), who seeks to represent a unit of students who assist faculty with teaching, research, and other miscellaneous duties.

Specifically, the Board asked the parties and amici to address, among other issues, whether the Board should modify or overrule its 2004 decision in Brown University, in which it held that graduate student assistants who perform teaching services at a university in connection with their studies are not statutory employees within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (Act). Specifically, the Board found the teaching activities are so closely related to the students’ degree requirements that the students and the University are engaged in more of an educational relationship, rather than an economic one. That meant the Act did not cover those graduate student assistants, and they could not unionize. Notably, Brown University was a reversal of the NLRB’s position in its 2000 New York University case, in which it had held that graduate assistants are employees.  (Also worth noting, New York University was decided by in a Democratic administration, and Brown University in a Republican one).
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Transgender rights have been receiving a considerable amount of media attention this week, most of which has been sparked by the magazine Vanity Fair featuring a cover story about “Keeping up with the Kardashians” star and former Olympian Bruce Jenner as a trans woman (Caitlyn Jenner). On the same day that the cover story was

As we said yesterday, this case is outside our labor and employment law area of practice, but I was really so entertained by it that I couldn’t let it go just yet.  So, as inspired by Justice Elena Kagan and with apologies to Dr. Seuss:

The fish on the ship were just too small,

So