Recently in Unions (labor relations) Category

December 15, 2014

Make a New Year's Resolution to have union-avoidance training

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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Continue reading "Make a New Year's Resolution to have union-avoidance training" »

December 12, 2014

NLRB: Your employees can use company email to badmouth you and unionize. Four reasons it's no big deal.

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.

October 8, 2014

EEOC, NLRB & Me: Mark your calendars for November 12, you guys

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.
.

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

September 17, 2014

Some Senate Republicans seek to reinvent the National Labor Relations Board

So, yesterday, it was all about some House Republicans introducing legislation to constrain the enforcement efforts of the EEOC. Then, I read this story from Ramsey Cox at TheHill.com. It seems some Senate Republicans are taking aim at the National Labor Relations Board.

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Some Senate Republicans seek to reinvent the National Labor Relations Board" »

September 2, 2014

How to curse out your boss on Facebook ... and get away with it!

It's easier than you think. Indeed, a recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board bears this out.

Details after the jump...

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Continue reading "How to curse out your boss on Facebook ... and get away with it!" »

August 18, 2014

NLRB may encourage your employees to file OSHA, FLSA claims too

nlrb.jpgLast week, the National Labor Relations Board issued this memorandum in which it has instructed regional offices to encourage employees to file complaints with the United States Department of Labor if the the regional NLRB office "believes that an employer may have violated a substantive or anti-retaliation provision of [OSHA] or the FLSA."

Remember that the National Labor Relations Act covers more than just unionized employers and workplace. For example, many of the social media cases involving the NLRB that you may have read about actually involve non-union workplaces. So, if you haven't gotten the message already, this NLRB initiative is another wake-up call to get your house in order.

Otherwise, you may have multiple federal agencies up in your business.

Continue reading "NLRB may encourage your employees to file OSHA, FLSA claims too" »

June 27, 2014

Supreme Court: President Obama botched those NLRB recess appointments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Supreme Court.jpgIn a unanimous opinion delivered yesterday (here) in NLRB v. Noel Canning, the Supreme Court concluded that President Obama's so-called "recess appointments" of three of the five members of the National Labor Relations Board between the Senate's January 3 and January 6 pro forma sessions were unconstitutional.

Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog.com summarized the decision "in plain english":

"[A]ny recess that is shorter than three days is not long enough to make a recess appointment necessary. And a recess that is longer than three days but shorter than ten days will, in the normal case, also be too short to necessitate a recess appointment."
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"[T]he Senate can prevent the president from making recess appointments even during its longer recesses by holding "pro forma" sessions - that is, sessions at which no work actually gets done - every three days."

So, there you have it. The net effect of this opinion is that any NLRB decision rendered with the three improperly-appointed NLRB members is void of lack of a quorum. (Previously, the Supreme Court held here that the Board is powerless to rule with less than a quorum of three members). Although, with a full quorum now, you'd expect that those case would eventually be affirmed.

For more on the Court's decision on NLRB v. Noel Canning check out:

June 12, 2014

Apparently, you can curse your boss out and still keep your job

latrelle.pngWhat with me gabbing on about firefighters afraid of fighting fires, butt grabs, and some Delaware lawyer starving himself over social media, I missed this National Labor Relations Board decision, in which the Board basically held that, as long as you don't go too far and pull a Latrell Sprewell, you can curse out your boss with impunity. 

Literally, you can call your boss a "f*%king crook," an "a$$hole," and "stupid" on a Friday, and still have a job to come back to on Monday.

God bless America.

For more on this Board decision, check out these posts:

April 24, 2014

ALJ strikes social media policy disclaimer for work-related speech

policyhighlight.jpgHow many of you have social media policies, which contain a provision that reads something like this...

"If you identify yourself as an associate of the Company and publish any work-related information online, you must use this disclaimer: 'The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of the Company.'"

Yeah, I write these disclaimers all the time for clients. Apparently, they're unlawful. 

Or so says, an administrative law judge in this recent opinion.

In what the ALJ considered to be a matter of first impression, he found that the provision above was overly broad and discouraged the rights of employees to discuss the terms and conditions of employment:

"The requirement that a disclaimer be posted by the employee every time he or she speaks on work related issues and is identifiable as an employee of the employer, is unduly burdensome, well beyond any legitimate interest of the employer, and will have a tendency to chill legitimate Section 7 speech by the burden it brings to it. The Respondent's rule impinges on Section 7 activity beyond any reasonable accommodation with any legitimate concern."

A matter of first impression, huh? 

I seem to recall the NLRB's own General Counsel blessing a social media -- heck, it was Wal-Mart's social media policy -- which had the same darn disclaimer language! You can view Wal-Mart's policy here (p. 23, last bullet).

But, the ALJ found this General Counsel guidance to be unpersuasive.

[In your face, Lafe Solomon!]

The ALJ reasoned that requiring this disclaimer for every online communication by an employee which concerns work-related information and as to which the employee is identifiable as an employee for the employer would be burdensome and overreaching.

Oh, I beg to differ. This doesn't seem overly broad or burdensome to me.

On many social media sites (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter), an individual is unlikely to identify his/her employer. So, it's a non-issue. And, on other social networking platforms like Facebook or a work-related blog, where the individual may identify himself as an employee, is it so hard to put the required disclaimer somewhere on the site?

Even if this particular disclaimer is overreaching, surely, one could appreciate how a company wants to ensure that individuals reading online employee-speech about the company, don't mistake those words for the position of the company.

We'll see what happens if this case goes to the full Board on appeal.

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If you're on LinkedIn, consider joining the discussion of news, trends and insights in employment law, HR, and the workplace, by becoming a member of The Employer Handbook LinkedIn Group. Tell 'em Meyer sent you.

April 17, 2014

Employment Law Blog Carnival - Pick Your Holiday Edition

The third week of April ushers in several holidays: Passover, Good Friday, Easter.

But no matter what your religion or god -- even a sacrilicious ceiling waffle -- we can all agree that the Employment Law Blog Carnival, which you can find this month at Tim Eavenson's blog: Current Employment, is the workplace glory. 

This month, Tim has more posts about HR-compliance than you can count on your ten fingers. So raise your hands up to the sky and shout Hosanna! The power of the #ELBC compels you! 

Or, just forget my blasphemy and enjoy the carnival.

Whatever.

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P.S. - If you're on LinkedIn, consider joining the discussion of news, trends and insights in employment law, HR, and workplace, by becoming a member of The Employer Handbook LinkedIn Group. Almost as fun as a carnival. I'm still working on getting a Tilt-A-Whirl*

(*By Tilt-A-Whirl, I mean life.)

March 28, 2014

About last night...

team.jpgSorry, gang. Last night was my fantasy baseball auction. And I got home hella-late. So, no post today.

Ahhhhhh, I can't totally leave you hangin'. So, you can read about how the University of Northwestern football team can now organize and form a union (here), or you can grade my fantasy baseball team (right) in the comments below.

Oh, no. Meyer's slacking. Let the unsubscribes begin!

(Well, maybe, I can salvage this with some Adele Dazeem).

Have a nice weekend.

March 27, 2014

Wages aren't confidential, you guys. Your employees can discuss them.

bankvault.jpgOver the past several years, seemingly, we're seen the NLRB take a more active interest in employee handbooks. 

We've certainly seen it with respect to social media policies; especially, where these policies purport to limit the rights of employees to discuss their employment with one another. This is because Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act allows employees to discuss their terms and conditions of employment together.

And you don't need to have a union either. The act applies in most every private-sector workplace.

So, whether it's employees gabbing about how their workplace sucks, or how they are being underpaid, you can't forbid that.

This holds true even if you have a workplace policy which categorizes wages as "confidential." The National Labor Relations Board won't have any of that. 

And, most recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed it in this case, by underscoring that "a workplace rule that forbids the discussion of confidential wage information between employees patently violates section 8(a)(1) [of the Act]."

Indeed, even a workplace rule that doesn't expressly lump wages into the definition of "confidential information" can still be overbroad and, therefore, unlawful. 

The company's "confidentiality" policy highlighted in the Fifth Circuit opinion didn't mention wages explicitly. Instead, it precluded discussion of company "financial information, including costs." Both the NLRB and the Fifth Circuit concluded that an employee could reasonably construe this language to preclude discussion of wages.

Therefore, when drafting your confidentiality policy language, consider carving out wages and benefits specifically, or more narrowly defining your confidential information so that a reasonable person wouldn't read the policy to preclude discussion of their paycheck.

Image Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Arts on Flickr

March 21, 2014

This may just be the greatest union-avoidance banner evah!

Yesterday, I read with interest Jon Hyman's post at the Ohio Employer's Law Blog about how Target has employed a 14-minute training video to help keep its workplace union free. Gawker has posted a copy of the video here. Like a bear crapping in the woods, Gawker pokes fun of the Target video. Cheesiness aside, I find it to be pretty effective.

But Target ain't got nothing on Subaru of Wichita. (h/t Jeff Nowak)

Subaru of Wichita - 1
Local Carpenters Union - 0 

Amirite?

And before I tell you to have a nice weekend, I'm going to ask you to save April 24 for me. On that date, along with Mary M. Tiernan of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, I'll be headlining a breakfast briefing at Dilworth Paxson in Philadelphia. After a few of my colleagues offer a legal roadmap for managing your aging workforce, Mary and I will address what's hot right now at the EEOC, and offer up some best practices to stay out of the crosshairs of employment litigation. 

For more information about the event, click here.

Now, go on and have a nice weekend!

February 6, 2014

NLRB renews its effort to expedite union elections

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Back in 2011, the National Labor Relations Board tried to pass certain rules that would have changed the union-election process in eight ways:

  1. Allow for electronic filing of election petitions and other documents.

  2. Ensure that employees, employers and unions receive and exchange timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process.

  3. Standardize timeframes for parties to resolve or litigate issues before and after elections.

  4. Require parties to identify issues and describe evidence soon after an election petition is filed to facilitate resolution and eliminate unnecessary litigation.

  5. Defer litigation of most voter eligibility issues until after the election.

  6. Require employers to provide a final voter list in electronic form soon after the scheduling of an election, including voters' telephone numbers and email addresses when available.

  7. Consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single post-election appeals process and thereby eliminate delay in holding elections currently attributable to the possibility of pre-election appeals.

  8. Make Board review of post-election decisions discretionary rather than mandatory.

However, courts later determined that the Board didn't have the authority to pass any election-rule changes, because it didn't have enough Board members to have a quorum.

(Gawd, this post got real boring, real fast...)

Fast-forward a few years, the Board is fully-loaded. So, the Board is all like, why not try to get the rules passed again.

So, the Board will officially publish the rules today for public comment. Here is what SHRM said about the same rules back in 2011. And here is what others are saying about the resurfacing rules in 2014:

The public will have until April 7, 2014 to submit comments.

December 4, 2013

Employers may force employees not to file class actions

nlrb.jpgAs my buddy Rubo used to say: "It's like school on Saturday; no class."

Read all about it -- yesterday's BIG federal appellate court decision; not my buddy -- after the jump...

Continue reading "Employers may force employees not to file class actions" »