On June 6, 2018, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued guidance on lawful and unlawful handbook rules under the National Labor Relations Act. This guidance follows the GC’s December 1, 2017 withdrawal of prior guidance on handbook rules that had been issued in 2015. Shortly thereafter, on December 14, 2017, the Board issued its decision in The Boeing Co., in which it articulated a new and more balanced test for assessing the legality of workplace rules, applicable to both unionized and non-unionized employers.  Continue Reading NLRB Issues New (And More Balanced) Guidance on Handbook Rules

Many employers would like to ensure that employees focus on their work during their working time – after all, that’s what they’re being paid to do! One way employers attempt to prevent distractions is by implementing a policy that prohibits employees from soliciting their co-workers (Buy cookies! Participate in this raffle! Come to my church supper! Join a union!) or giving them written materials to read while at work. Continue Reading Guidelines for a Valid No-Solicitation/No-Distribution Policy

Practitioners of labor law know that the 5-member panel comprising the National Labor Relations Board is appointed by the President of the United States. The Board majority (three members) are from the President’s party and the remaining two members are from the other party. As the administration changes, so does the Board majority. Continue Reading Recuse Me? Why the NLRB’s Order Vacating the Hy-Brand Decision Should Not Stand

Here we are again on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time, during the 2013 federal government shutdown, 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) and the Wage-Hour Division (WHD)), 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 the agencies will and will not do if there is an actual shutdown. Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2018 Edition

As my colleagues know, I have been unbelievably frustrated over the past eight years about the National Labor Relations Board’s (overly) aggressive pro-union approach. As I have previously complained, during this period, the NLRB has taken unreasonable and illogical positions on issues that for many years had been considered settled and balanced between the interests of employees and employers. These include issues we’ve previously blogged about, including handbook rules (you can’t prohibit recording in the workplace, you can’t prohibit employees from disclosing confidential personnel information), employee conduct (you must tolerate racist and sexist picket line conduct that violates Title VII), and joint employer status (which is found in almost every case, under the NLRB’s test). Continue Reading The Light at the End of the NLRB’s Tunnel?

It’s Ravens-Steelers week. All talk should be on whether T-Sizzle sacks Big Ben, can Flacco start getting the ball to his wideouts, and will the Ravens regroup following their disastrous showing in London?  However, unless you are living under a rock with no Twitter account, you know what the talk is—will the Steelers stay in the tunnel again during the National Anthem (they say no), will players kneel or express their political views in any other manner, will fans start burning player jerseys in front of the stadium? This is no idle question, due to an online petition to remove the Ray Lewis statue outside the stadium after he knelt during the anthem at the last game, the Maryland Stadium Authority has placed extra security around the statue of the Ravens legend. Continue Reading Fired for Kneeling During the Anthem? Maybe Not So Fast…

Last week we had our firm’s Fantasy Football draft.  Ezekiel Elliott went at the end of Round 2, behind usual top running back picks David Johnson and La’Veon Bell, but also behind lesser runners Melvin Gordon and Jordan Howard. Everyone knows that Zeke would have been a top five draft choice had he not already been suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (aka the most hated man in Foxboro, MA), whose decision was then upheld by a labor arbitrator.  I’m kicking myself for taking Atlanta’s running back Devonta Freeman instead of Elliott. Why, you say?  Continue Reading What, Did the Judge Draft Ezekiel Elliott for his Fantasy Football Team?

Last year, Fiona’s sister told her that a herd of goats, complete with a  goat herder, had moved into the park next to her house. They were brought in to clear certain park areas of overgrown vegetation. What a charming, effective, and environmentally-friendly solution! Apparently Western Michigan University had the same thought, because it also brought in goats to clear areas of the campus. But a union has decided to butt in and has filed a grievance against the University, claiming that the goats were performing “union work!” (We can see it now, brave goats crossing a picket line to get to their jobs!) Continue Reading Animal Subcontracting – Getting the Union’s Goat!

I became the commissioner of my daughter’s county basketball league when she was nine.  No one else would “step up.”  The prior year, a player had slapped another player in the handshake line at the end of a game in retribution for rough play (by an 8-year-old girl!) and no game commissioner was there to intervene.  I decided to take on the role of cool-headed logistics manager: a non-coach who could make sure the game schedule was set, the rules were observed, and each game had a designated adult in attendance to avoid bad sports behavior (whether by players, coaches or parents).  But this “cool headed commissioner” is ripping mad at the NLRB (or, to be more precise, the NLRB majority) for concluding that junior and senior high school lacrosse referees are employees and not independent contractors entitled to unionize! Continue Reading The NLRB Thinks High School Sports Referees Can Unionize!

The issue of whether employees can be required to sign arbitration agreements that contain waivers of their right to file a class or collective action over employment-related disputes is one that has drawn much attention – and much conflict – in recent years. The Obama administration, it seemed, steadfastly opposed such waivers. Under the Trump administration, which (regardless of your politics) has had a slow and bumpy transition of federal agency leadership, the agencies do not appear to be operating from the same playbook – as evidenced by recent actions by the National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB). Continue Reading The Government Seems Confused About Class Action Waivers