On Monday, September 25, 2017, in a party-line vote of 49-47, the Senate (finally) confirmed William Emanuel to fill the only remaining open seat on the National Labor Relations Board for a five-year term. Mr. Emanuel joins fellow Trump appointee Marvin E. Kaplan, and, along with Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra, Republicans now control the majority on the five-member Board. Mr. Emanuel is a long-time management-side labor lawyer based in California at the law firm Littler Mendelson. Prior to his time with Littler Mendelson, Mr. Emanuel represented employers at Jones Day and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Continue reading “The NLRB Has a New Member, but Its Transformation Is Not yet Complete”
Thomas J. Szymanski
Enacted in 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) was designed, among other things, to protect the rights of employees and employers, including protecting an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity in the workplace, such as complaining to other employees about her manager or terms and conditions of employment, without fear of retaliation by his or her employer. The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), an independent federal agency with five members appointed by the president, enforces the NLRA and effectively controls its interpretation and application, subject to limited review by the courts. In less than a decade, the NLRB of the Obama administration extended the protections of the NLRA—in ways some would say were never contemplated by Congress—to employees’ work-related conversations conducted on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Those protections apply regardless of whether the employee is represented by a union or not. With this expansion of protection for social media activities, employers must carefully consider the NLRB’s decisions, or else proceed at their own peril. Continue reading “The NLRB Pushes Protections for Social Media Comments to the “Outer-Bounds” of the NLRA”
Scott F. Cooper
On September 11, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit revived a lawsuit under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) that the employer claimed was barred by settlement of an employee’s workers’ compensation claim.
The case of Zuber v. Boscov’s provides valuable lessons for employers who think they have concluded matters with an employee through a settlement only to find out that not all claims were released. Continue reading “Employers: Make Sure Your Settlement Agreement Gets You What You Want!”
In the wake of the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, there are several steps that employers can take to help their impacted employees. To assist employers, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) have each issued guidance on relief in response to Hurricane Harvey.
Tax-Free Disaster Assistance to Employees
Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) allows an employer (or other entities) to provide tax-free disaster relief to its employees in those instances where the payments constitute qualified disaster relief payments. Continue reading “Government Agencies Stepping up in Light of Hurricanes”
On August 31, 2017, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas struck down the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) final rule that would have transformed millions of white collar jobs into non-exempt positions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The rule, issued by the DOL in response to President Obama’s mandate to the Secretary of Labor to “modernize and streamline” the existing overtime regulations, was originally scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, and would have increased the minimum salary requirement for the FLSA’s white collar exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year). Conservative estimates were that application of the rule would have made 4.2 million employees eligible for overtime pay that previously were deemed exempt. The same federal judge had previously enjoined the rule in late November of last year, shortly before it was to go into effect. Continue reading “The DOL’s Overtime Rule is Dead. . . Long Live the DOL’s Overtime Rule!”
Blank Rome’s Labor & Employment practice is pleased to announce the launch of our new blog, Blank Rome Workplace, which will offer insight and analysis on emerging employment issues across varying industries, ranging from new regulatory developments to litigation and enforcement trends.
“Labor and employment issues are complicated and evolving at an ever-quickening pace. Every day, federal, state, and local legislatures and courts change the ground rules for properly employing people,” said Scott Cooper, Partner and Co-Chair of Blank Rome’s Labor and Employment practice. “Blank Rome Workplace will provide timely updates, analysis, and practical advice to clients, outside counsel, and human resource executives seeking to navigate the ever-changing landscape.” Continue reading “Blank Rome Launches Labor & Employment Blog”
Scott F. Cooper
There is an old saying that natural disasters bring out the worst in nature and the best in people. As Hurricane Harvey has shown us, massive devastation is often followed by extraordinary human achievements.
As conditions return to normal in Texas and Louisiana, there are some legal and practical things employers should keep in mind to avoid making an already bad situation worse. These six tips apply just about any time Mother Nature unleashes her fury, including snow, ice, and fire. Continue reading “Employees after the Disaster . . . !”
Last week, the Office of Management and Budget in the White House informed the EEOC that it was delaying implementation of a rule the EEOC finalized last year, which would require significant additional information be included in annual EEO-1 reports. The EEOC’s new rule required employers to provide information on W-2 wage data and hours worked for employees within 12 specified pay bands. The first EEO-1 reports with such data were set to be due March 31, 2018. Continue reading “All (Employers) Hail the OMB as It Stays Implementation of New EEO-1 Wage Reporting”
First in a Series of Blogs
Asima J. Ahmad
Over half of the states in the country allow for the limited possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Several states, including New York, Connecticut, and Illinois, even provide explicit workplace protections to prevent adverse employment actions against medical marijuana patients. However, the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) makes it a federal crime to use, possess, or distribute marijuana. Under federal law, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, regardless of whether it has any acceptable medical uses. So what should an employer do when an applicant or employee fails a drug test due to marijuana use, or after being informed that an applicant or employee needs to use marijuana as part of his or her medical treatment? These questions are slowly making their way into courthouses across the country, and two recent cases may prove to be instructive. Continue reading “Conflicting Marijuana Laws Leave Employers High on Confusion”
California Employers May Restrict Their Employee’s Ability to Compete During the Term of Employment
Overview of California Noncompete Law
California employers know well that they cannot restrict their former employees from competing after the employment relationship ends. With limited exceptions, California law invalidates every contract under which a person is prevented from engaging in his or her profession, trade, or business.
California Business and Professions Code section 16600 codifies California’s longstanding public policy favoring open and uninhibited competition in the employment context. California’s public policy declaration can be summed up as follows: “The interests of the employee in his own mobility and betterment are deemed paramount to the competitive business interests of the employers….” Diodes, Inc. v. Franzen, 260 Cal. App. 2d 244, 255 (1968). Continue reading ““In Term” Covenants Not to Compete Void or Valid?”