Minnesota’s new law will take effect on July 1, 2023, prohibiting all noncompete agreements, except those entered during the sale of a business or in anticipation of the dissolution of a business. The law will not apply retroactively to void existing noncompete agreements and will not prohibit the continued use of non-solicitation, confidentiality, trade secret
Drawing on nearly 20 years of experience, Todd Hanchett represents employers in high-stakes litigation and traditional labor law matters. As a seasoned litigator, he regularly represents clients before state and federal courts around the country, as well as in labor arbitrations and before the National Labor Relations Board. In addition to employment matters, Todd specializes in litigating and trying cases involving employee non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements, as well as tortious interference claims. His practice focuses particularly on companies in the medical device, senior housing, health care and hospitality industries.
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NLRB Returns to Longstanding Position Limiting Use of Confidentiality, Non-Disclosure, and Non-Disparagement Clauses in Employee Severance Agreements
The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Jennifer A. Abruzzo, issued guidance on March 22, 2023, about the NLRB’s McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58, decision from February 21, 2023, which reinstated a limit on the confidentiality, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement clauses that employers may include in severance agreements with most of their lower-level employees. While not law, the General Counsel’s guidance is intended to address the uncertainty among employers regarding what language is deemed acceptable to include in severance agreements and what language may create liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) following McLaren Macomb.
The McLaren Macomb decision specifically held that employers may not condition severance on the employee’s waiver of rights protected by the NLRA and that agreements between employers and employees that restrict employees from engaging in activity protected by the NLRA or from filing unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the NLRB, helping other employees in doing so, or assisting during the Agency’s investigatory process are unlawful. The NLRB observed that the employer’s offer is itself an attempt to deter employees from exercising their statutory rights, at a time when employees may feel they must give up their rights in order to get the benefits provided in the agreement. It also provided that the conduct of an employer is irrelevant to assessing the lawfulness of a severance agreement, and the plain language of the severance agreement alone can constitute a violation. While the Maclaren Macomb decision has been described as a return to the standard applied in earlier cases, many speculate that it indicates that the NLRB intends to take a broader view of how severance agreements infringe on employees’ rights under Section 7 of the NLRA.…
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Oregon Health Authority Announces Sunset Date for Indoor Mask Requirements
On February 7, 2022, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) announced that it would lift the general state-wide indoor mask requirement no later than March 31, 2022. Per the OHA, the mask requirement for schools will also lifted by March 31, in coordination with the Oregon Department of Education (“ODE”).
The OHA is basing its decision…
Oregon Health Authority Releases Mandatory Vaccine Rule and Religious/Medical Exemption Forms for Health Care Workers
Last week, Governor Kate Brown announced that the State of Oregon would require that all health care workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they could prove they were entitled to a religious or medical exception. The Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) just released its administrative rule implementing the Governor’s announcement: effective October 18, 2021, health…
Oregon to Require Vaccinations for All Health Care Workers
On August 19, 2021, just two weeks after announcing that all Oregon health care workers must either be fully vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19, which we blogged about here, Governor Brown announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for health care workers starting October 18, 2021, assuming the vaccines have full FDA approval by…
Oregon Legislature Further Limits Employee Non-Competition Agreements, Including Imposing a 12-Month Limit on Duration
Over the last several years, the Oregon Legislature has whittled away employers’ ability to enforce employee non-competition agreements (see our posts from 2007, 2015). Senate Bill 169, which Governor Brown signed into law on May 21, 2021, further limits an employer’s ability to impose non-competition obligations on employees. Effective starting January 1…
Face Coverings Are Now Required for Employees of Select Oregon Businesses
Pursuant to Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance, employers in certain businesses must require employees, contractors, and volunteers to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield, unless an accommodation for people with disabilities or other exemption applies. On June 11, 2020, the OHA issued updated guidance explaining that face coverings are not required when eating/drinking…
Reopening Oregon: Governor Brown Releases Details and Guidance for Businesses
On Thursday, May 7, 2020 – six weeks after Oregon Governor Brown announced a statewide “Stay Home” order – Governor Brown released details for Reopening Oregon over the coming weeks and months. The Governor’s plan follows federal guidance and permits certain businesses to reopen in phases after specific public health prerequisites are met.
In the first phase of the plan, counties that satisfy those prerequisites may permit certain business activities starting on May 15. Phase 1 activities include sit-down dining at restaurants and bars and personal care services. Each phase is required to last at least 21 days to ensure that each health benchmark is met before further loosening restrictions in the next phase.
In her announcement, the Governor also issued guidance for various sectors of the state – the public, employers, outdoor recreation, restaurants & bars, retail stores, and personal services providers. The state’s guidance for employers is summarized below; we provided more detail for many of these concepts in our own Ten Things to Consider in Getting Back to Work.
- Know the signs of COVID-19 illness and have a plan for what to do if an employee develops symptoms at the workplace.
- Follow state and federal guidelines to protect employee health and safety.
- Promote social distancing at work.
- Understand your obligations under state and federal leave laws.
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COVID-19 Litigation: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (or stop sheltering in place anyway), a wave of COVID-19-related employment lawsuits are being filed across the country. At our last count, nearly 50 labor and employment-specific cases have been filed. The first in Oregon was filed earlier this month by a former assisted living facility employee who seeks $950,000 in damages for alleged whistleblower and sick leave retaliation. Although the types of claims being brought by employees are typical—wage/hour, whistleblower, contract, wrongful termination, protected leave and discrimination claims, WARN Act violations—employers now face a perfect storm: defending real-time decisions made to keep their businesses afloat against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has completely disrupted business operations. (And as we all know, “You can’t just call time out and stroll on into the beach if you don’t like the way things are going.”)
As we have mentioned during several COVID-19-related client briefings, courts will now have to wade into murky waters and provide clarity on how newly enacted or amended local, state and federal leave laws such as the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) operate, especially where statutory and regulatory guidance has not always been clear. Courts will also need to provide direction on how well-settled legal schemes, such as disability and contract law, apply in the face of a pandemic.
Of particular concern for employers right now are trends in wage and hour class actions suits, which can pose significant risk of crippling wage penalties and plaintiffs’ attorney fees, as well as leave discrimination and whistleblower retaliation claims. These kinds of claims could draw sympathy from jurors and sink a business. Here are a few of examples of employment cases recently filed across the country, and trust us, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”…
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Staying Connected with Your Employees: Temporary Hours Reduction or Work Share Program?
Employers facing changes in their business or broader economic downturns must find ways to respond and weather the storm. Typically, this means cutting expenses, while maintaining their ability to operate. For many (if not most) businesses, payroll is the single largest expense item. And when business slows, employees are left with excess capacity and are…