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The Suggestion Box: Useful Management Tool or Unlawful Solicitation of Grievances

T-Mobile USA, Inc. ("T-Mobile") in 2015 created T-Voice, a nationwide program through which customer service representatives could submit "pain points" regarding certain aspects of the job, including ideas to improve customer service. The majority of these pain points addressed customer service issues, such as billing, fraud procedures, access to computer programs, and at times, the type of music customers were subjected to while on hold. Some of the suggestions have led to action being taken by T-Mobile, like requests for device-charging stations, which resulted in T-Mobile installing three stations. More ›

Under Surveillance: Investigating Intermittent FMLA Abuse

Since being enacted in the early 1990s, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has provided meaningful protections for employees dealing with their own serious health issues or those of immediate family members through continuous and intermittent leave options. Human resource professionals and employment lawyers alike recognize how valuable intermittent leave is for employees needing periodic care; however, they also recognize this form of leave also is abused. Employers need to be able to effectively investigate suspected benefit abuse and discourage the dishonest use of the FMLA. More ›

Significant Win for Franchisors as McDonald's Dodges Franchisee Wage and Hour Claims

In a major victory for franchisors, a panel of the Ninth Circuit recently held that McDonald's Corporation cannot be liable as a joint employer for the wage and hour violations of its franchisees. Importantly, the court held that McDonald's involvement with its franchises and franchise workers is focused on maintaining brand standards and "does not represent control over wages, hours or working conditions." However, uncertainty remains over the liability of franchisors that impose more than just branding and marketing standards on its franchisees. More ›

Overtime Rules Update: DOL Adjusts Minimum Salary Requirement for Salaried Employees

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) made official a new regulation increasing the minimum salary level that salaried employees must be paid to be exempt from overtime. As of January 1, 2020, if a salaried employee makes less than $684 per week—or $35,568 per year—the employee will be entitled to overtime for the hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week. More ›

NLRB Proposes Rule that Would Deny Undergraduate and Graduate Students the Right to Unionize

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed a new rule which would exclude undergraduate and graduate students from coverage under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, students who perform study-related services in return for financial compensation at private colleges and universities would not be able to collectively organize as employees. The proposed rule is subject to a sixty-day comment period. More ›

NFL Running Back Union Blocked in Attempt to Form Separate Bargaining Unit

A unit clarification petition filed by the fledgling International Brotherhood of Professional Running Backs (IBPRB) was dismissed on September 17, 2019, by the Acting Regional Director of Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The IBPRB wanted to carve out running backs from the collective bargaining agreement between the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)—the union that represents all NFL players—so that they could negotiate their own labor contract with the NFL. The IBPRB cited several reasons for their petition, including  "unique career structures," along with a claim that the mini-max rookie wage contract is economically harmful to running backs, but "advantageous" to quarterbacks. More ›

NLRB Deals Another Blow to Obama-Era Micro-Units

From an employer's perspective, one of the most challenging decisions to come out of the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was the concept of "micro-units" within an employer's organizational structure. Under the concept, employers could have multiple, small bargaining units, sometimes involving different unions, notwithstanding the fact that a broader group of employees shared a significant (though not ''overwhelming'') community of interest. That decision was later overruled by the NLRB in PCC Structurals, Inc. 365 NLRB No. 160 (2017), which restored the Board's prior standard for determining the appropriateness of a petitioned-for bargaining unit. Now, in The Boeing Company, 368 NLRB No. 67 (2019), the NLRB has further clarified the required analysis for this determination. More ›

Eighth Circuit to Decide Viability of Bringing Class Action Claims Under the ADA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will soon be deciding a case that may have important implications on the viability of class actions for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In Harris v. Union Pacific Railroad, the Eighth Circuit will look at whether a large class can be certified in ADA litigation notwithstanding certain individualized inquiries inherent to the ADA. More ›

NLRB to Revisit Issue of When Employees Lose NLRA Section 7 Protection When Using Threatening and Demeaning Language

While discussing work assignments with his supervisor, an employee uses abusive and profane language. In another incident, the employee disrupts a workplace meeting by playing loud music with racial and political overtones. These and other behaviors led to discipline which was in turn challenged by the employee as an unfair labor practice. In General Motors LLC and Charles Robinson (14-CA-197985; 14-CA-208242), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requested public comment on when insubordinate, threatening or intimidating behavior should not constitute protected activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). It is not uncommon for the NLRB to request public comment in situations where there may be a policy shift.

The facts of General Motors LLC and Charles Robinson are relatively straightforward. Charles Robinson is a Union Committee representative, and he could be characterized as a zealous supporter of worker rights in a unionized environment. From a management perspective, he could just as easily be deemed a disruptive, uncooperative, intimidating, and threatening employee. Robinson was disciplined by the employer for essentially three reasons: More ›

NLRB Reverses Itself and Broadens Employer Property Rights in Restricting Access to Non-Employee Union Agents

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has revisited the issue of when an employer may restrict access to its private property by non-employee union agents. In Kroger Limited Partnership, a union business agent was denied access to the food store's parking lot to solicit Kroger's customers to boycott the store. When the union agent refused to leave, the supermarket called police to force the union agent to leave the premises. The NLRB was subsequently was called upon to assess whether Kroger's actions were unlawful and discriminatory under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). More ›

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