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).
Continue Reading NLRB Overreach: Grad Students as Employees?

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 many of my clients are dealing with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) abuse by various bad apple employees.  I really feel their frustration because, as many of you know, it is really challenging to address FMLA abuse effectively given the law’s broad protections for employees.  So it’s nice when, every once in a

In light of pandemic fears over the past several years, health care facilities have been more aggressive about mandating employee flu vaccinations, on the reasonable basis that such vaccinations are required to protect the health and safety of employees, patients and others.  On March 5, 2012, the EEOC issued an informal discussion letter on this

A cautionary tale about workplace relationships comes out of Pittsburgh this week

The sordid story involves the – now former – CEO of Highmark, 58-year-old Dr. Ken Melani. A well-respected figure in the community, Dr. Melani was riding high – CEO of a major, national company, and a $4.3 million dollar salary to boot. But,