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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 ›

California Governor Extends Workplace Harassment Training Deadline to 2021

Last December, this blog detailed SB1343 and the law's requirements for employers with five or more employees to provide anti-harassment training. SB1343 expands existing anti-harassment training requirements, and also covers seasonal and temporary workers. Employers are required to provide their non-supervisory employees with one hour of training, and supervisory employees are required to complete two hours of training. The training must then be repeated every two years thereafter. Originally, the deadline for completing the initial training was set at January 1, 2020. More ›

A "Perfectly Clear" Successor Under the NLRB is Less Than Perfectly Clear

A recent decision by a three judge panel of the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals highlights potential pitfalls for successor employers who want to establish new compensation terms. In First Student, Inc., the D.C. Circuit panel concluded the employer in that case was a "perfectly clear" successor under existing precedent of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because it intended to offer employment to the all of the employees of the unionized predecessor who met minimum criteria. The concept of a perfectly clear successor first was raised by the United States Supreme Court in NLRB v. Burns International Security Services, Inc.. In that decision, the Supreme Court noted that in certain circumstances it is "perfectly clear that the new employer plans to retain all of the employees in the unit," and the employer then is obligated to bargain with the union before making unilateral changes to wages, benefits, and other mandatory terms or conditions of employment. More ›

NLRB Ruling: Simply Misclassifying Workers is Not an Unfair Labor Practice

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to retreat from its previously expansive approach to what might be considered interference with Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act (the "Act"). Followers of Hinshaw's blog submissions will recall the NLRB gave a very broad interpretation during the Obama era to the scope of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act. An August 29, 2019 ruling from the NLRB in Velox Express, Inc. vs. Jeannie Edge further highlights how this is certainly not true of the Trump-era Board. More ›

NLRB Announces Three Proposed Rules, ULPs May No Longer Block an Election

On August 12, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued three proposed amendments to the rules on union representation elections. These three amendments, outlined below, would change the "blocking charge" policy, the voluntary recognition bar, and the rule on contractual representation clauses in the construction industry. More ›

New York Passes Significant Amendments to Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Law

In an effort to align its legislation with the broader standards of the New York City Human Rights Law, New York State recently passed an amended anti-harassment bill which will significantly impact how employers handle harassment claims. Governor Cuomo signed the bill on August 12, 2019. Many of the new provisions, if not already in effect, will be effective within sixty days. All employers will be subjected to the new amendments, regardless of the number of employees. More ›

Florida Can Enforce Law Voiding Noncompete Contracts Between Doctors and Employers

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida held that Florida can enforce a law that voids noncompete agreements between doctors and their employers. The recently adopted legislation—section 542.336, Florida statutes—voids any noncompete agreements between physicians and specialty physician groups when the group employs all the physicians practicing a particular specialty within a given Florida county. In 21st Century Oncology, Inc. v. Moody, the Northern District reasoned that the law doesn't unlawfully interfere with private agreements, and any such impairment is outweighed by the law's significant, legitimate public purposes. More ›

NLRB Serves Up Guidance for Restaurants on Mandatory Arbitration Agreements in Post-Epic Systems Era

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently provided guidance in Cordúa Restaurants, Inc., 368 NLRB No. 43, for employers seeking to require employees to sign class action and collective action waivers in arbitration agreements when facing litigation. By way of background, the U.S. Supreme Court previously held in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 138 S.Ct. 1612 (2018), that agreements containing class action and collective action waivers, and provisions stipulating that employment disputes be resolved by individualized arbitration, do not violate the National Labor Relations Act. As a result, the Court held that these agreements must be enforced as written to follow the Federal Arbitration Act (the "Act"). In Cordúa Restaurants, the NLRB was faced with two issues of first impression in the post-Epic Systems era: (1) whether the Act prohibits employers from circulating such agreements in response to employees opting in to a collective action; and (2) whether the Act prohibits employers from threatening to discharge an employee who refuses to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement. The NLRB held that both actions were consistent with Epic Systems and were not forbidden under the Act. The Cordúa Restaurants decision provides significant opportunity for employers to revise arbitration agreements to preclude participation in these multi-party litigations and require that employees sign these agreements. More ›

DOL Opinion Letter Expands Scope of Activities Eligible for Intermittent Family Leave

On August 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division (collectively the "DOL") issued Opinion Letter FMLA2019-2-A, which interpreted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to include providing intermittent family leave for a mother to attend committee meetings related to the serious health conditions of her children. The Opinion Letter expands the scope of activities eligible for intermittent FMLA leave. More ›

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