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US Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, recently announced the creation of a new office, the Office of Compliance Initiatives. The “OCI” will be tasked with promoting greater knowledge of federal labor laws and regulations through enhanced compliance assistance outreach efforts. The goal of the OCI initiative is to prevent workplace violations.

Continue Reading The DOL Creates A New Compliance Office And Announces Six New Opinion Letters

A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board left experienced labor practitioners scratching their heads. In Tschiggfrie Properties Ltd. v. NLRB, a three-member panel of the Eighth Circuit did more.

The panel vacated the NLRB’s decision in a case involving an employee who was fired for abusing his employer’s Wi-Fi and for sleeping on the job. (The same employee also initiated the process of unionizing the workforce and served as an observer for the union election.) Before the appellate court, the NLRB unsuccessfully argued that a showing of a nexus, or a link between the employee’s protected activity and the adverse employment action, was not required to satisfy the employee’s initial burden in a wrongful termination case. The Eighth Circuit found that the NLRB misapplied the burden of proof, vacated the NLRB’s order and remanded the case with instructions to reconsider whether the general counsel could make the appropriate showing.

Click here to read more about this case, the reminder its decision serves and next steps employers should take.

Mark Twain famously said: “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” So it is true with reports that employers can breathe easier with the new Trump National Labor Relations Board.

The recent decision in Circus Circus Casinos Inc. is a stark reminder that even as the mid-term elections in the Trump presidency approach, the Obama era, at least at the NLRB, is not over. The decision in Circus Circus imposes on employers an additional administrative step to clear before conducting investigatory interviews during the disciplinary process. After receiving a signal (even if not a direct request) that an employee desires representation, employers may not proceed with interviews until a union representative can be identified and obtained.

Click here to read on.

Last month the Seventh Circuit drew a distinction between “commissions” and “bonuses” as those terms are used in the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) and its implementing regulations. For employers, particularly those in retail, Sutula-Johnson v. Office Depot informs how employers structure, amend and communicate their employee incentive compensation schemes.

Continue Reading Be Careful What You Call It — Commission Plans In Illinois

Recent guidance issued by the NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, the NLRB’s chief prosecutor, is a continuing testament to the NLRB’s impact on the changing legal landscape regarding workplace rules. On June 6, 2018, Peter Robb issued a 20-page Memorandum to the NLRB Regional Offices titled “Guidance on Handbook Rules Post-Boeing.”

Continue Reading The NLRB Issues Useful Guidance Providing Additional Clarity On Work Rules

Employment law practitioners are keenly aware of the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis in single plaintiff disparate treatment cases. Under the analysis, plaintiff must demonstrate (1) status as a member of a protected class, (2) an adverse employment action and (3) a similarly situated person outside the protected class who was treated differently. In a recent decision, Hansen v. Rite Aid, No. A-4750-16T4 (N. J. Super. Ct. App. Div., May 2, 2018), the New Jersey Court of Appeals provided a reminder that it is plaintiff’s burden to prove the alleged comparators are indeed similarly situated.

Continue Reading Reminder That It’s Plaintiff’s Burden To Prove Comparators Are Similarly Situated In Disparate Treatment Cases

Employers facing potential withdrawal liability when closing facilities or withdrawing from underfunded multiemployer pension plans received some welcome news last month. In a noteworthy decision, a federal district court rejected a commonly used formula to calculate withdrawal liability. In the decision in The New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’-Publishers’ Pension Fund, et al., Nos. 17-CV-6178-RWS, 17-CV-6290-RWS (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2018), the court held that use of the so-called Segal Blend method of valuing a plan’s unfunded vested benefits to calculate withdrawal liability was a “mistake” and without statutory support under ERISA.

Continue Reading Actuary’s Assumptions Regarding Withdrawal Liability Rejected

Last week, a team of Baker McKenzie partners (Andy Boling, Doug Darch, Bill Dugan and Miriam Petrillo) led a lively roundtable in Deerfield, Illinois on the topic of civility in the workplace.

Attorneys from the EEOC (Greg Gochanour, Regional Attorney for Chicago Office) and the NLRB (Paul Hitterman, Regional Attorney for Region 13 of the NLRB) joined us in leading the discussion. Topics included disciplining employees for uncivil workplace behavior, the enforceability of confidentiality restrictions on witnesses during internal investigations and the NLRB’s newly issued test for reviewing employee work rules.

Here, we share a “top 10” list to highlight the principal takeaways from the program.

Continue Reading Top 10 Takeaways For Managing A Diverse Workplace From Our Civility Seminar

Embracing mediation as a way to avoid litigation is not a sure-fire solution as one employer recently learned. See Unite Here Local 30 v. Volume Services, Inc., No. 16-55528 (9th Cir. January 26, 2018). Mediation is often employed as an alternative method of dispute resolution for its perceived advantages over traditional lawsuits (e.g. it can be quicker, less expensive and less formal than a court-driven process). For these reasons and others, many labor unions and employers frequently choose mediation as an alternative to arbitration.

Continue Reading Mediation Agreement In CBA Leads To Litigation

Manufacturers and retailers that have long relied on a complex web of contractors and subcontractors to supply necessary parts and materials may face a new risk. A recent decision limiting the effectiveness of a no-strike clause in a collective bargaining agreement may create an additional risk to that supply chain, if not to the employer’s own uninterrupted operations.

No-Strike Clauses

  • Most CBAs contain some form of a no-strike clause. They are intended to protect against any interruption to production due to labor unrest during the term of the agreement.
  • The Supreme Court has long deemed a strike in violation of a no-strike clause a breach of the collective agreement which a federal district court could enjoin.
  • BUT — that assumption may no longer be wholly valid as demonstrated by a recent decision by a federal district court. Just Born, Inc. v. Local Union No. 6, Bakery Workers, 2017 BL 466136 (ED Pa. 2017).

Continue Reading Supply Chain Interruption Risk From Mid-Term Strikes