4th Circuit Joint Employer Test Is Incredibly Broad

Published in Law360

Much has been written about the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial Browning-Ferris decision that significantly expanded the scope of joint employer liability under the National Labor Relations Act. But virtually no attention has been given to the Fourth Circuit’s recent panel decision in Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc., which creates an altogether new and incredibly broad joint employment standard under the Fair Labor Standards Act that makes the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris joint employment standard seem temperate at best.

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Court Ruling Confirms Sexual Orientation Claims Not Permitted By Federal Law . . . But Foundation Continues To Crack

It has been ironclad law since the enactment of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that the Act’s prohibition against discrimination “because of . . . sex” does not include sexual orientation.  Federal law does not prohibit employers from terminating someone for being gay or lesbian.  For now, at least.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (covering Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) confirmed that proposition this month in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital.  On one hand, the court’s holding reinforced what it and every other federal appellate circuit already had determined.  On the other, the court showcased perhaps the most heated internal judiciary battle yet on this issue, which has percolated at high temperatures for the past few years.

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Another Step in the NLRB’s Mission to Expand the Definition of “Concerted Activity” Under the NLRA

On March 6, 2017, an NLRB administrative law judge (“ALJ”) issued a ruling finding that a nonunion automotive manufacturing facility in Alabama violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when it terminated three employees who walked off the job over a holiday-season scheduling dispute. The ALJ found that the employees were engaged in protected concerted activity despite the fact that they denied discussing the decision to leave work before their shifts had ended.

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District of Columbia Circuit Hears Oral Argument on Browning-Ferris “Joint Employer” Standard

On March 9, 2017, the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia heard oral argument in the case entitled Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., d/b/a/ Browning-Ferris Newby Island Recyclery v. National Labor Relations Board,  Nos. 16-1028, 16-1063 and 16-1064.  (Our prior blogs about this case can be found here.) This appeal challenges the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) new and imprecise standard for determining whether companies are “joint employers” for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. The new standard, first issued in Browning-Ferris Industries, 362 NLRB No. 186 (Aug. 27, 2015), abandons consideration of a company’s direct and immediate control over employees in favor of a fact-specific approach that focuses more on “reserved” or “indirect” control.

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D.C. to Restrict Use of Credit Information in Employment Decisions

Effective March 17, 2017, the District of Columbia will join a dozen other jurisdictions across the country that prohibit an employer’s use of “credit information” in employment decisions.  The new law, D.C. Act 21-673, amends the District of Columbia’s existing human rights law by adding credit information as a prohibited basis for discrimination for any employment decision (not just hiring), and applies to employers of any size.  See D.C. Code § 2-1402.11(a)(1) and (a)(1)(4)(D), as amended.

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Supreme Court Will Rule On Legality of Class Action Waivers in Employer Arbitration Agreements

The United States Supreme Court has granted consolidated review of three cases to determine whether arbitration agreements that waive employees’ rights to participate in a class action lawsuit against their employer are unlawful. The Court’s decision to address the uncertainty surrounding class action waivers of employment claims follows a circuit split last year in which the Fifth and Eighth circuits upheld such waivers and the Seventh and Ninth circuits found that such waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act. Given the increasingly widespread use of class action waivers by employers to stem costly class and collective actions, the high court’s ruling is likely to have a significant nationwide impact.

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San Jose Joins the Growing List of Cities Regulating Employee Hours

Beginning next week, on March 13, 2017, San Jose employers must offer existing part-time employees additional work hours before hiring any temporary, part-time, or new worker. This is a result of a vote last fall by voters in San Jose, California who approved “The Opportunity to Work Ordinance” (Ordinance No. 2016.1, codified at Chapter 4.101 of the San Jose Municipal Code) – a local measure that directs employee hours and hiring practices.

San Jose’s Office of Equality Assurance, the local agency tasked with monitoring, investigating, and enforcing the Ordinance, recently issued its Opportunity to Work FAQs, which provides additional guidance on how employers can comply with the new ordinance.  Following more comprehensive scheduling ordinances passed in San Francisco and Emeryville last year, San Jose is the third northern California city to enact a scheduling ordinance.

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Supreme Court of Virginia Rejects Expansion of Bowman Claim

If the Supreme Court of Virginia were looking for an opportunity to expand its Bowman doctrine—the narrow public policy exception to Virginia’s at-will employment rule—it had the perfect chance to do so.  But, in a recent decision, Francis v. NACCAS, Inc., the Court reiterated the narrow and restrictive application of the Bowman exception.

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What Employers Need to Know About “A Day Without A Woman”

When is “A Day Without A Woman”? 

Tomorrow, March 8, 2017.

What is the goal of “A Day Without A Woman”?

According to organizers, “[t]he goal is to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.”

Organizers are looking to end workplace discrimination and urge employers to adopt benefits such as paid family leave, sick days, adequate healthcare, fair pay, vacation time, and healthy work environments.

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Returning Balance To The NLRB

Published in Law360

The National Labor Relations Board has an 80-plus year history of administering federal labor law and regulating labor-management relations in the United States. Formed in 1935 by the passage of the original Wagner Act, the board’s primary obligations are to oversee the formation of collective bargaining units, to investigate and prosecute unfair labor practices, and to establish legal precedent through regulations and binding case precedents. In carrying out its responsibilities, the board is generally expected to act as a neutral arbiter of facts and cases.

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