On December 14, 2017, in a 3-2 decision along party lines, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) issued a decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017) case.  This is a significant and long-awaited victory for employers grappling with unfair labor practice charges stemming from facially neutral workplace rules and signals the Board’s intent to retreat from regulating non-union activity.  Specifically, Boeing  rescinds the onerous workplace rule standard in Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004) in favor of a new, more rational test.

Continue Reading NLRB Reverses Employee-Friendly Rule Regarding Facially Neutral Workplace Policies

Two recent rulings have labor law observers questioning where the line is in disciplining employees for making offensive or obscene comments toward their employer. Seemingly at odds are a recent Second Circuit ruling finding such behavior is protected activity under the NLRA and a recent NLRB ruling finding the use of profanity towards management is not protected.

Continue Reading Profane or Offensive Rants – Can Employees Be Fired For This Conduct?

[From Hunton’s Retail Blog]  If you are a retailer, you may have policies and procedures in place regarding who can speak on behalf of your company. Such policies may generally instruct employees not to speak to the press as a representative of the company, and to direct all media inquiries to a particular person or department. Similarly, if you are a retailer, you may have a policy in place that instructs employees to forward any reference requests to your human resources department. These commonplace policies allow retailers to control their public image and protect employee privacy, among other benefits. But, according to a recent decision by a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) administrative law judge (“ALJ”), such policies may violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in their right to engage in concerted activity.

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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.

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

A common misconception among banks and financial services companies is that if they are non-unionized, the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to them. Hunton & Williams LLP partner Emily Burkhardt Vicente and senior attorney Amber Rogers discuss the key points non-unionized financial services companies should know about the NLRA. View the 5-minute video here.

A common misconception among banks and financial services companies is that if they are non-unionized, the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to them. Hunton & Williams LLP partner Emily Burkhardt Vicente and senior attorney Amber Rogers discuss the key points non-unionized financial services companies should know about the NLRA. View the 5-minute video here.

With its May 26 Lewis v. Epic-Systems Corp. decision, the Seventh Circuit became the first circuit to back the reasoning in D.R. Horton, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 184 (2012), and held that a mandatory arbitration agreement prohibiting employees from bringing class or collective actions against their employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This decision creates a circuit split regarding the enforceability of arbitration agreements with class action waivers in the employment context, and the issue is now ripe for potential Supreme Court review.

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Bucks the Trend and Creates a Circuit Split Regarding Enforceability of Employment Class Action Waivers

Sitting as the lone dissenter on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) might seem like a futile exercise. Grinding away on opinions that are critiques of the law as stated by your colleagues can be disenchanting work. But as a former NLRB member, I can attest that dissents are also valuable tools for future board members and the courts. Indeed, one of my proudest moments as a lawyer came when a court of appeals reversed the board “for the reasons stated by Member Meisburg.”

A recent NLRB decision involving an employer’s work rules illustrates the value of a powerful dissenting voice. Since late 2010, the NLRB has been on a campaign to outlaw employer rules that, the board says, may be “reasonably” read to prohibit employees from engaging in activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Such activity includes protesting working conditions or making efforts to form a union. Increasingly, the test seems to have morphed into one not based on the reasonable reading of a rule, but instead on whether any conceivable reading could “chill” protected conduct.

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In Dover Energy, Inc., Blackmer Division v. National Labor Relations Board, the Board held that Blackmer violated section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when it threatened Tom Kaanta, a Blackmer employee and United Auto Workers Union shop steward, with disciplinary action if he continued to make “frivolous” information requests to the company’s lead negotiator during collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) negotiations. On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed and held that the NLRB’s factual findings were not supported by substantial evidence.

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Refuses to Rubber Stamp NLRB Finding

On January 20, 2016, the administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), David Weil, issued an “Administrator’s Interpretation” (AI) regarding the agency’s interpretation of joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). The new AI purports to clarify the WHD’s position that joint employment under these statutes “should be defined expansively.” When considered alongside the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB or the Board) controversial decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (2015), in which the Board dramatically expanded the definition of “joint employer” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the AI may be another step in a coordinated federal agency push to expand joint-employer liability under a variety of labor and employment statutes.

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