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nlrb.jpgIn a 2-1 decision issued today (copy here), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Labor Relations Board lacked the authority to act as early as March 2010, when President Obama appointed Craig Becker to the Board. The Third Circuit held that Member Becker’s appointment to the Board while the Senate was on an intrasession recess (a break within a session of the Senate) was unconstitutional. Implicit in the court’s decision is that the appointments of Members Block, Griffin, Flynn in 2013, while the Senate held pro-forma sessions, were also invalid.

The Third Circuit ruled that recess appointments are only valid if made during intersession breaks (i.e., between sessions of the Senate).

This decision is crazy-long (102 pages plus a 55 page dissent). Thankfully, my Dilworth Paxson colleagues, Erin Galbally and Marjorie Obod prepared an e-alert summarizing the decision.

Over the weekend, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill making Colorado the eighth state to have a social media workplace privacy law. (The others are MD, IL, CA, MI, UT, NM, and AR). You can view a copy of the new CO law here

The new law places three restrictions on employers with respect to access of employee and applicant social media accounts:

  1. No requests for social media user names and passwords;

Senator Richard Durbin [IL-D] has reintroduced the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act in the U.S. Senate, while Rep. Carolyn Maloney [D-NY12] has done the same in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill, which has been taken up in Congress several times previously — most recently in 2011 — would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to permit leave to care for a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent who has a serious health condition.

I’d be surprised if the FMLIA becomes law. However, regardless of whether it passes, there is nothing now preventing employers from offering these benefits to their employees.

Did someone say benefits? Well friends, do I have some benefits for you! (See how I did that?)

By now, the whole teacher blasting her job on Facebook is like death and taxes to me. I can’t a go a week or so without reading about a teacher posting photos of duct-taped students or a teacher wishing that her “devils spawn” students would drown in the ocean.

Well, here’s a new one.

Last week, a court ordered the NY school to re-hire the teacher it had fired for wanting to send her hellish kids to their watery graves.

I’ve been searching for gold recently. So, I knew I was on to something good when I started reading this opinion last week, and wasn’t sure whether what I was reading was a sexual harassment case or a porno script.

What can I say? I like the plots.

Folks, if you click through, I promise you a great read after the jump…

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Schlangenmädchen Neyenne Circus BelyOn Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 223-204 to pass the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to permit employers to provide compensatory time off in lieu of monetary compensation for overtime hours worked. Presently, through the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act, only state and federal employees may receive comp time in lieu of OT.

Specifically, the Working Families Flexibility Act authorizes compensatory time off at a rate of no less than one and one half hours for each hour of overtime worked. Under the FLSA, employers must pay OT at a rate of no less than one and one half the employee’s regular rate of pay. Republicans contended the measure would allow parents to spend more time with their children. House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer [D-MD] has hyperbolized that the Working Families Flexibility Act “would eliminate the 40-hour workweek as we know it.”

It should come as no shock, then, that House passage was basically along party lines. And, even if it somehow passes the Senate, the President would likely veto the bill.

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On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled here that the National Labor Relations Board cannot require private employers — union and non-union — to hang this poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace. Billed by the Board as a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, many employer groups viewed the “mandatory” poster as more of an encouragement to unionize than as a neutral informational poster.

Previously, the lower court in DC had upheld the poster rule. Meanwhile, a South Carolina federal court had shot it down.

The appellate court determined that the poster rule would violate employers’ free speech under Section 8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act. The appellate court also ruled that the poster rule unlawfully expanded the Board’s enforcement powers.

You see, employment-law dorks like me use tools like these to monitor the status of pending employment-law-related bills. And, yesterday, I got a hit informing me that, on Monday, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed this proposed NJ bill, which would prohibit employers from requiring employees and candidates for disclosing online usernames and passwords.

Savador Rizzo at The Star-Ledger summarized Gov. Christie’s reasons for vetoing the bill here:

Christie said that he supports safeguarding “the privacy of job candidates and employees from overly aggressive invasions by employers” but that he wants to see stronger protections for businesses. For example, the governor said aggrieved workers should go to the state labor commissioner with their complaints instead of being able to file lawsuits in state court.

Fact or Fiction?That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

I’ll set it up for you:

You run a non-union company called RH Chili Peppers. However, one of your employees, Disgruntled Donny, has been trying to get his co-workers to help unionize the workplace. Thus far, he has been unsuccessful. So, DD takes to Facebook and posts a message bashing the wages and benefits at RH Chili Peppers on a Facebook page called, “Peter Picked a Peck,” a Facebook page that DD “likes.” PPaP is frequented by employees, like DD, who work in the chili pepper industry, albeit at other chili pepper companies in the city.

What could go wrong when the boss’s son asks that question of, David, a nearly-40-year employee? Oh, right, David got laid off a week later.

Age discrimination? Well, let’s see…

We know that when an employer inquires about an employee’s retirement plans — without bringing up age — it should be able to avoid liability. But, repeated inquiries about a plaintiff’s intention to retire could suggest an age-related impetus for his eventual firing.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”