Photo of Douglas A. Darch

In February 2020, the NLRB finally unveiled its long-awaited joint-employer rule governing joint-employer status under the NLRA. The final rule returns the test for determining joint employment to the standard the Board applied for several decades before the 2015 Browning-Ferris decision. The test set forth by the new joint-employer rule provides that a business is a joint employer only if it has “substantial direct and immediate control” over another company’s workers and actually exercises that control. While this is no doubt a welcome relief for employers who routinely contract with subcontractors and staffing companies, it is important to note the limited scope and that this rule does not impact joint-employer tests applied under other employment laws. The proposed rule was initially released in late 2018 and ultimately generated nearly 30,000 public comments (see our coverage here).

Although the rule is an employer-friendly change, employees who are terminated for engaging in protected concerted actives will continue to have a claim for relief against their primary employer. Similarly, union organizing efforts can continue amongst temporary employees as they have for years. Bargaining will continue to occur as it always has between employers and their employees’ union representatives. The labor movement, however, is likely disappointed by the demise of the 2015 Browning-Ferris rule.  For years, unions have chaffed at the prohibition against secondary boycotts contained in the Taft Hartley Act of 1947. The 2015 Browning-Ferris rule allowed a backdoor repeal of a significant portion of the secondary boycott ban with its loose definition of joint employer.


Continue Reading

The 2020 presidential race is well underway in the U.S. Labor policy has been and will continue to be a key talking point for Democratic candidates and President Donald Trump moving into the general election.

In part one of this two-part article, we examine the key labor policy proposals advanced by the leading Democratic contenders

As the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads into the broader economy, human resource professionals are finding that grappling with the consequences are more complicated in union-represented workforces. In a union workforce, the employer must determine what it has already agreed it will do, the extent of its freedom to address the scenarios created by COVID-19, and the legal framework within which it must act. Below we offer several considerations for employers to adopt.

First, examine the collective bargaining agreement. This will allow you to determine the extent of the company’s freedom to act independently and expeditiously. The place to start is to determine management’s right to schedule work, to idle the plant, to send workers home and to lay-off employees. Determine the restrictions, if any, in these rights, such as call-in pay or weekly guarantees.


Continue Reading

In a significant decision for the service provider community, this month the National Labor Relations Board dismissed a claim that an employer was required to provide its employees’ union the service contracts it had with its customer. G4S Security Solutions USA, Inc. 369 NLRB No. 7 (2020). The panel decision was unanimous. Notably, however, the decision left open the possibility that a union could require the production of a service agreement if it could demonstrate the agreement was relevant to bargaining.

Continue Reading

The Seventh Circuit significantly narrowed the EEOC’s broad interpretation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) last month. The court held that the ADA does not cover discrimination based on a future impairment.

The Seventh Circuit determined that the “regarded as having” prong of the ADA does not extend to applicants who are rejected due to an employer’s concerns about future disabilities. Shell v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Ry Co. The Seventh Circuit joins the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits in holding that the present tense “having” in the ADA does not include the future tense “will have.” The facts here involved an obese applicant, and not an applicant with an existing predisposition, so its practical impact may be narrower than at first blush.


Continue Reading

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in First Student Inc. v. NLRB suggests the judicially-created “perfectly clear” successorship standard to determine whether a company inherited its predecessor’s bargaining agreement is ripe for a challenge.

A divided panel concluded that under the National Labor Relations Act, the “perfectly clear” successor standard applied to a successor

This week, the National Labor Relations Board finally came to its senses and adopted the contract coverage test for cases alleging an employer had unlawfully, unilaterally changed employees’ terms and conditions of employment. MV Transportation, Inc. 368 NLRB No. 66 (2019). This week’s decision is likely to change the forum unions select for the enforcement of their labor agreements. Ironically, the decision may compel employers to consider additional bargaining rather than litigation before an arbitrator given there is little opportunity to appeal an adverse arbitration award.

Continue Reading

In August, the National Labor Relations Board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to address three rather limited situations involving employee representation issues. These proposed rules follow 70-plus years of experimentation with a hodgepodge of ad hoc one-off decisions, dramatic changes and frequent reversals in the process of enabling employees to exercise their rights under

Chicago is the most recent city to adopt a “predictive scheduling” ordinance, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance.

Effective July 1, 2020, employers subject to the Ordinance must provide advance notice of work schedules to covered employees. If changes are made to the posted schedule, employers must pay additional wages, “predictability pay,” as a penalty. This penalty applies to both increases and reductions of shifts.


Continue Reading

The NLRB recently determined that merely discrediting an employer’s justification for a union activist’s termination (a pretext finding) could be insufficient to demonstrate the termination was unlawful. Electrolux Home Products, 368 NLRB No. 34 (2019). This outcome was preordained by the NLRB’s decision in Wright Line, 251 NLRB 1083 (1980) and was reinforced as an acceptable legal analysis by the Supreme Court in a decision under Title VII, St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 US 502 (1993). The logic of the rule found its voice in ABF Freight Systems v. NLRB, 510 US 317 (1994) in which the Court determined it was permissible for the NLRB to order the reinstatement of an employee even after the employee lied under oath during the NLRB hearing, as to do otherwise, would “distract the Board” with collateral credibility disputes.

Continue Reading