Employers are probably aware that OSHA’s new drug testing and anti-retaliation rule is now in effect. (See our post here discussing the rule.) However, as we blogged previously, many states have their own reporting requirements, which are not required to track OSHA’s rules precisely, but which must be “at least as effective” as OSHA’s
Tim O’Connell is a partner of Stoel Rives in the labor & employment and telecommunications law sectors. His practice includes collective bargaining, unfair labor practice and representation proceedings before the NLRB and public sector agencies, labor arbitrations, equal employment and discrimination cases before administrative agencies and courts, wrongful discharge litigation, wage and hour counseling and litigation, and general personnel management. He has also been actively involved in the rulemaking process, both drafting and negotiating new rules and leading litigation challenging agency action.
Click here for Tim O'Connell's full bio.
In the wake of the election results, the question on everyone’s mind now is: What impact will President-Elect Trump have on employers? Trump has thus far given few details on his thoughts on labor and employment. But with Republicans maintaining control of Congress, employers could see a lot of changes in the next couple of years. Our experts weighed in with their thoughts on how different areas of labor and employment law may be affected.
Continue Reading Labor & Employment Law Under President-Elect Trump
As previously reported, OSHA’s latest revisions for covered employers will dramatically impact routine post-accident drug testing programs. The new rules are available for review here, but here’s what you need to know:
- OSHA Postponed Enforcement. OSHA just delayed the date on which it will begin enforcing these new requirements. OSHA’s memo postponing
As we’ve previously blogged, for several years the Obama Administration has been on a calculated campaign to increase unionization in America. Federal agencies, particularly that National Labor Relations Board, have been systematically changing longstanding rules to make it more likely that unions can prevail in election representation campaigns. We previously blogged about two earlier key components of this campaign: the revised rules from the NLRB approving “quickie” union elections on dramatically shortened time frames; and even earlier efforts to allow unions to designate “micro-units,” increasingly small groups of employees so that unions may narrowly focus their organizing efforts. Now, in the twilight of the Obama Administration, the final effort in the campaign to increase unionization has just been announced: the Department of Labor has finally issued its long threatened regulations that would dramatically narrow the scope of confidential advice employers can receive when dealing with union organizing campaigns.
Continue Reading The Third Shoe Drops: The Department of Labor Issues Revised “Advice” Regulations
As we have previously reported here and here, the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) new rules governing union representation elections go into effect today, April 14, 2015. Congress passed a resolution disapproving the new “quickie” or “ambush” rules, but President Obama vetoed it. While lawsuits have been filed in Texas and the District of Columbia challenging the new rules, at this point no court has halted their implementation. Thus, absent late-breaking developments, employers need to be prepared for this brave new world.
Under the new rules, elections will be expedited. Disputes over the unit selected by the union will be resolved in a hearing normally scheduled for no more than eight days after the filing of the petition. Moreover, the employer must identify all of its concerns with the group of employees targeted by the union in a “statement of position” filed the day before the hearing, or those arguments will be waived. Excelsior lists must be provided more quickly, and elections will be held within 10 to 25 days after the filing of the petition.
The bottom line: by design, employers will not have adequate time to prepare a campaign to educate their employees about the issues that will arise if they vote for union representation. Thus, it is imperative that all employers evaluate their risks of union organizing activity, and do what you can now to prepare ahead of time.
Continue Reading Are You Ready to be Ambushed? NLRB’s New “Quickie Election” Rules Become Effective
In recent years the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has aggressively sought to emphasize that its reach extends beyond solely unionized workforces. On March 18, 2015, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin released a 30-page report that provides labor lawyers and HR professionals guidance on what the General Counsel contends is – and is not – a lawful employee handbook rule under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The General Counsel’s report makes clear just how broadly the Board applies its rules, finding fault in a number of common-sense workplace practices regarding confidentiality, criticism of the company, misconduct, communication with the public or the media, conflicts of interest, and a variety of other topics. Non-union employers may be asking, “Why do I care?” But the NLRA applies to every employer (at least those engaged in “interstate commerce,” which is almost everyone).
Virtually anyone – individual employees, union organizers or other non-employees – can (and does) file Board complaints, and one of the first things the NLRB’s investigator will ask you for is your policies. Even if the investigator concludes the charge is without merit, if you are “maintaining” overly broad policies, you may have a fight with the NLRB on your hands – and at the very least you will face a demand to modify the policy and post a notice informing employees of your transgression and your commitment to upholding employee rights to participate in protected, concerted activity. If you’ve got a union lurking (or campaigning), that’s like free (and forced) advertising, telling employees why they need a union.
We’ve written about the NLRB’s scrutiny of employer rules on social media use and off-duty access, but this report is a “one stop shopping” trip for purposes of NLRA compliance. The report (available here) provides real-life examples of allegedly unlawful and lawful policies and the reasoning behind the decisions. And it provides (starting at page 26) what some might view as “model” policies prepared by Wendy’s International LLC and the NLRB pursuant to a Board settlement agreement. You may not like – or decide to adopt – the stance that the General Counsel has taken on these policies, but at least you (sort of) know his position on many handbook policies.
Continue Reading NLRB Says “Mere Maintenance” of Employee Handbook Rules May Violate the NLRA
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous decision earlier this week in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, held that time spent by warehouse employees at Amazon.com warehouses waiting to go through security checks at the end of their shifts was “postliminary” activity not compensable under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and its major amendment, the Portal to Portal Act (“PPA”). While Busk may provide welcome clarity for employers who wish to implement such screens, the case probably does little to radically change the analysis of compensability of other pre- and post-shift activities beyond its narrow set of facts.
Amazon.com’s Warehouse Security Checks
Integrity Staffing is a staffing agency that provides employees to Amazon.com. Those employees work in the company’s warehouses pulling products from shelves and getting them packaged for mailing to buyers. Because of concerns related to employee theft, Integrity Staffing required employees to go through security checks before leaving the warehouse at the end of their shift, but did not pay employees for that waiting time. Waiting in line and going through these security checks took about 25 minutes.…
Earlier this week, a three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited decision in DR Horton Inc. v. NLRB. As expected by most labor lawyers, including us, the Fifth Circuit (with one judge dissenting) overruled the National Labor Relations Board’s dramatic extension of the law, that employers could not require employees to enter into agreements to individually arbitrate employment disputes, precluding collective or class action litigation. In DR Horton the NLRB had concluded that such agreements conflicted with employees’ rights to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) — a conclusion that had since been rejected by almost every court to face the issue. The Fifth Circuit’s decision does contain a cautionary note for employers: an arbitration agreement may not appear to bar an employee from filing charges with the NLRB.
DR Horton is a home builder with operations throughout the United States. Beginning in 2006, DR Horton required all its employees to enter into a “Mutual Arbitration Agreement.” The agreement precluded civil litigation between the parties, requiring that all disputes be submitted to arbitration. Most critically, the agreement also barred any form of collective or class action proceeding. In 2008 the underlying plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit, contending that he had been misclassified as an exempt managerial employee in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When DR Horton responded by insisting on individual arbitration pursuant to the agreement’s bar of collective actions, the plaintiff filed unfair labor practice charges with the Board.…
Once again, federal courts have halted efforts by the current National Labor Relations Board ("the Board") to expand its regulatory reach. Earlier this week, in National Association of Manufacturers v. NLRB, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the Board’s controversial attempt to require virtually all employers to post a notice advising employees about the requirements of the National Labor Relations Act ("the Act") and the sixty years of interpretations of the federal labor laws.
The Board’s notice-posting rule has had a long and contentious history. The original petition was filed in 1993, but it was not until 2010 when the Board, by then with a majority of members appointed by President Obama, issued a proposed rule. The final rule was published in August, 2011, and litigation challenging the Board’s authority began almost immediately. As we have reported before, the Board had only mixed success. One district court upheld the rule only in part, and another struck down the rule completely. While those cases were on appeal, the posting requirement was stayed pending completion of judicial review.…
We continue our recent end-of-year postings (on new California employment laws and things every employer should resolve to do in 2013) with an update on recent cases by the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB" or "Board"). In late December, 2012, the NLRB issued a series of controversial decisions which from an employer’s perspective cannot be considered Christmas presents. While some of these cases impact only narrow circumstances, each of the decisions dramatically changes the law, always in ways adverse to employers.
The Board’s December 2012 Decisions
In Alan Ritchey, Inc., the Board created an entirely new obligation for employers operating a workplace where a union has been recognized or certified, but no collective bargaining agreement has yet been agreed to. In this setting, the Board concluded, an employer must notify the union and provide it with an opportunity to bargain over individual discretionary discipline before the discipline is imposed. The Board made clear that this obligation requires sufficient advance notice for meaningful bargaining. Moreover, the employer must respond to union requests for information regarding the discipline before such meaningful bargaining can occur. The Board dismissed concerns that the new obligation it had created would be unduly burdensome for employers, suggesting that there may be circumstances in which an employee could be removed from a job prior to bargaining, when leaving employee on the job might present “a serious imminent danger to the employer’s business or personnel.”…