Articles Posted in Unions (labor relations)

Apple with a bite taken out of it
In a decision issued last week (here), the National Labor Relations Board ruled that “the filing of an employment-related class or collective action by an individual employee is an attempt to initiate, to induce, or to prepare for group action and is therefore conduct protected by Section 7 [of the National Labor Relations Act].” So, for example, if you fire someone for filing a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit on behalf of himself and other similarly situated employees, then you’ve violated both the FLSA and the NLRA.

Yes, if an employer actually retaliates in that manner, shame on the company. However, two things pique my interest here:

  1. An administrative law judge concluded that the employee was fired because he filed a FLSA collective action. By this time, in the federal court action, the parties had barely scratched the surface on taking discovery and the federal court had yet to certify a class. (Ultimately, the FLSA action was settled amicably in federal court, without any finding of liability).
  2. This decision could prove incredibly broad. For example, how about an employee who claims that he was fired for participating as a witness in a workplace investigation of discrimination, or because he cooperated with the EEOC? Indeed, a logical extension of lask week’s NLRB decision is that the witness’s involvement implicates the terms and conditions of employment for at least two other employees, the victim and the alleged harasser. That sounds like Section 7 activity.

Obviously, the easy solution is don’t discriminate and don’t retaliate. But, lawsuits are based on a series of allegations. And, what percentage of employment lawsuits actually result in a finding of liability? Thus, even the appearance of wrongdoing may be enough for a second bite at the apple with an unfair labor practice charge decided by an Administrative Law Judge.

Image Credit: Grm wnr at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

picketAn employee was caught on video saying to black employees, “Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone?” and “Hey, anybody smell that? I smell fried chicken and watermelon.” The company had a strict anti-harassment policy. So, after learning about the comments, the company fired the employee.

So, what would compel an Administrative Law Judge to require that the company reinstate him? Continue reading

[WARNING: This post has some VERY foul language. Although the National Labor Relations Board may tolerate it, many of you may be offended].


 

By now, all of us have read the articles, which claim that the law permits your employees to complain about work on social media … and keep their jobs.

Well, that’s not exactly true. The National Labor Relations Act, which applies to most private-sector workplaces — both union and non-union — protects employees who engage in protected concerted activity. Protected concerted activity is where employees discuss working conditions with one another.

But, an employee who gripes alone is not protected. Also, vulgar and obscene comments are not protected.

Until now. Continue reading

A few years ago, I posed the question: Is a workplace “English-only” rule legal? 

Yadda, yadda, yadda, sometimes.

That is, in this Compliance Manual, the EEOC confirms that employers may adopt English-only rules under certain circumstances, insofar as it is adopted for nondiscriminatory reasons (e.g., safety, business necessity) and not to discriminate on the basis of national origin. Continue reading

Before I get to a 1752-word blog post about the National Labor Relations Board going wee-wee all over your workplace Cheerios with this March 18 report from General Counsel Griffin, replete with examples of how your employee handbook is overly broad and violates the National Labor Relations Act, let me do two things:

  1. Shout out to employment lawyer and blogger Robin Shea and her fantastic job with the April Fools Edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival. Word!
  2. The follow-up podcast I recorded with Casey Sipe and Jessica Miller-Merrell from Blogging4Jobs.com on the FMLA/ADA/WC questions we couldn’t get to during out hour-long webinar is now available. Email me if you’d like a copy.

So, about that report… Continue reading

I had every intention of watching the President address the Nation last night. I really did.

But, then I got sucked into the Director’s Cut of The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, the one where the Washington Generals show up first and replace all the confetti with lice. Then poor Lovie Howell takes some shrapnel and, frankly, I didn’t realize that Thurston could order a hit squad so quickly to a remote Island.

By the time I remembered the SOTU, the Harlem Globetrotters were busting out a ladder — sorry, Krusty — and que sera.

Fortunately for me, and, by extension, you, the White House printed a copy of the SOTU, which I could cut and paste expertly analyze for you after the jump…

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It’s on now!

Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a press release in which it announced that it had filed this complaint in federal court against the National Labor Relations Board to strike the Board’s election rules, passed last month, which would create faster union elections.

More on this lawsuit, after the jump…

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Cue the haters.

Following a decision last Thursday permitting employees to use company email to badmouth you and unionize, the National Labor Relations Board ended last week by passing a new rule, which, in its words, updated “its representation-case procedures to modernize and streamline the process for resolving representation disputes.”

In other words, faster union elections and more of ’em.

Details on this new rule and what employers can do about it, after the jump…

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YES, THAT’S RIGHT. NO BIG DEAL.

Hey, if you’re a big employment dork like me, (vote Handbook!), you’ve already read a bunch of blog posts, and you’ll read several more about how the sky is falling after yesterday’s NLRB decision, in which the Board held that employees may use company email to discuss the terms and conditions of employment.

Yes, this decision extends to any workplace — not just unionized workplaces — that is covered by the National Labor Relations Act. And, yes, it may help your employees communicate with one another to form a union (gasp!) or otherwise discuss working conditions, but…

Seriously, you gots to chill.

This is no game-changer.

First, this rule only applies to employee communications on non-work time. So, you don’t have to pay employees to talk trash about the company. If your employees don’t have access to work email, this decision does not require you to give it to them.

Second, do you really think your employees strictly adhere to your computer-use policy that says that company electronic equipment should be used for business purposes only?

Third, I find it hard to believe that employees who wish to unionize would prefer to use company email as a way to discuss forming a union, versus other equally (or more) effective means (e.g., social media, personal email, text message, phone, face to face) that are far less susceptible to employer interception.

But, above all, if you run operate a company that communicates with its employees, values them not just in terms of the dollars you pay, but the respect you give, then unionization will be the furthest thing from their minds.

And if discussions over company email are enough to convince your workforce to unionize, then you deserve to have a union.

You're Invited.jpg

What if…

I’m just saying, what if you could attend an event — a free event, with breakfast — and you get to hear me speak for an hour and fifteen about social media in the workplace and other hot workplace issues, and then grill me during a Q&A?

That would suck, right? Because, apart from the breakfast, who wants to hear me speak for an hour and fifteen minutes?

So, how about something better — couldn’t be worse, amirite?

How about a panel discussion featuring, oh, I dunno…

Well, hey now! Direct access to three of the most influential workplace decisionmakers in our government. And I’m the moderator. (Oh, alright! You get the free breakfast too).

Is your heart racing? Your pulse quickening? That’s not the morning coffee you’re feeling. 

Geared to human resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel, this incredible collaboration will dish at an event entitled “Social Media @Work – The #BalancingAct Between Employer and Employee.” We’ll cover a variety of hot topics such as: 

  • Establishing social media policies that withstand legal scrutiny
  • Exploring the impact of social media on hiring decisions
  • Determining how far is too far when it comes to sharing workplace information online

Beyond social media, each speaker will address other emerging workplace issues at their respective agencies and take your questions. And, because I love you guys, this program has been approved for 1.25 HR/General recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

You want in on this? Yeah, you do…

Social Media @Work
The #BalancingAct Between Employer and Employee

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Breakfast: 8 a.m.
Program: 8:45 a.m. – 10 a.m.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Limited tickets available here.

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littletwitter.pngBoth before and during the event, follow along and tweet using #BalancingActlittletwitter.png