In December 2014, the New York Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation into Jimmy John’s corporate office and its New York franchises. Jimmy John’s is a sandwich shop with franchises throughout New York and the United States. The investigation in New York concerned whether the use of a non-compete clause that barred departing employees from taking a job with any employer within two miles of a Jimmy John’s store that made more than 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches was legal.
The Fifth Circuit held recently that the State of Texas had standing to sue the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) over the Commission’s “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII” (the “Guidance”) issued in April 2012, which warned employers that blanket policies against hiring felons could disproportionately exclude minorities and thus be deemed discriminatory. Texas originally sued the EEOC in late 2013 seeking an injunction against enforcement of the Guidance and a declaratory judgment that state agencies be allowed to maintain their policies, as instituted under state law, barring categories of convicted felons from state employment. In its complaint, the State also claimed that the EEOC’s Guidance improperly preempted state law. The lower court granted the EEOC’s motion to dismiss on grounds that Texas lacked standing to sue the EEOC because the Commission cannot bring an enforcement action against the state for failing to comply with the Guidance. The lower court also held that the EEOC Guidance did not constitute a “final agency action” under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), and thus the Guidance was not subject to judicial review.
Earlier this week, the NLRB issued yet another troubling decision in the joint employer space, a world the Board already turned upside-down last summer with its landmark Browning Ferris ruling. In Miller Anderson, the Board overturned Bush-era precedent and held that a union seeking to represent employees in bargaining units that combine both solely and jointly employed employees is no longer required to obtain the consent of the employers, provided the proposed bargaining unit is appropriate under “traditional” Board precedent. Under the prior rule established in the Board’s 2004 Oakwood Care decision, the Board would not allow employees from nominally different employers to form a single bargaining unit without consent, because employers who join a multi-employer bargaining unit must all consent to their inclusion (a sound policy given the host of practical and legal variables that can arise when separate employers agree to bargain together).
Recently, Washington DC council members unanimously voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by the year 2020 for non-tipped hourly workers, many of whom work in the retail industry. The news comes just before Washington DC is scheduled to increase its minimum wage rate from $10.50 an hour to $11.50 an hour on July 1, 2016. The move makes DC the third jurisdiction behind California and New York to increase minimum wages to $15.00 an hour.
When it comes to employee wage equality, California already has one of the most expansive laws in the country, and it is now attempting to go even further. On June 23, the Wage Equality Act of 2016 (“Wage Equality Act”), SB 1063, took one step closer to becoming law as it passed the California State Assembly’s Committee on Labor and Employment. The bill seeks to extend the protections of the California Fair Pay Act, which prohibits pay disparity based on sex for substantially similar work, to also prohibit such disparities based on race or ethnicity. Already approved by the State Senate on May 31, 2016, the Wage Equality Act will now be heard in the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in August after which, assuming it passes, it will make its way to the Assembly floor. If California’s Wage Equality Act is enacted, it will likely create the strongest wage equality law in the United States.
Yesterday, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction temporarily preventing the DOL from implementing and enforcing its recent Persuader Rule pertaining to outside consultants’ (including lawyers) reporting obligations in the labor relations context. You can see our prior blogs on this topic here. The controversial rule was slated to apply to agreements or arrangements and payments made after July 1, 2016, but now is in limbo. We will keep you posted as new developments occur. A copy of the Court’s order can be found here.
Businesses need to have written protocols in place to deal with bankruptcy filings by their employees and independent contractors, or they risk serious sanctions and, potentially, punitive damages for violations of the bankruptcy laws. Consider two examples.
We are excited to introduce a new video series, Things You Need To Know in 5 Mins or Less. Each episode will feature a discussion of the legal and business challenges facing the real estate industry, and will include lawyers from a variety of disciplines throughout the firm. In the first episode of this new video series Carl Schwartz, co-chair of the firm’s global real estate practice, sits down with labor and employment partner Kurt Larkin to discuss the National Labor Relations Board “joint employer” rule: how it has changed and what it means for the real estate industry. Watch: Changes in Labor Law Impacting You and the Real Estate Industry via YouTube. If you haven’t subscribed to the Hunton & Williams YouTube channel you can follow us here.
Since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 in 1965, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has been charged with ensuring nondiscrimination and affirmative action for females in employment. In 1970, regulations were issued to further this goal, known as the Sex Discrimination Guidelines, codified at 41 CFR Part 60-20.
Those guidelines have not been substantially updated in the 46 years since. Until now, that is. The DOL acknowledges the Guidelines have become “out of touch with current law and with the realities of today’s workforce and workplaces.” See: OFCCP Fact Sheet on Sex Discrimination Final Rule. So, the OFCCP is bringing the Guidelines “from the ‘Mad Men’ era’ to the modern era.’”
A concerned business community has closely followed the NLRB’s shifting views on the concept of “joint employers” – separate companies that are deemed to be so interconnected that they should be treated as one for purposes of labor relations activity and unfair labor practice liability. In August of last year, the NLRB decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, 362 NLRB No. 186 (Aug. 27, 2015), put into place a broad new test that dramatically expands the definition of “joint employer.” Now, an entity will be found to be a joint employer if it exercises only indirect control over the employment terms and conditions of another company’s employees. Indeed, joint employer status can be established if a company simply possesses, but never exercises, the ability to control such terms.