This article was originally published on Law360.com.

Taking advantage of an unaddressed area of law, and his virtually unfettered discretion to control the prosecution of unfair labor practice allegations, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has returned the board’s deferral policy to its historical practice. Once again, unfair practice charges in a union-represented workplace will be deferred to the parties’ grievance and arbitration process whenever a grievance has been filed or could have been filed.

The new Memorandum GC 19-03 reverses much of a prior memorandum, issued during the final year of the Obama administration which precluded deferral unless the parties had expressly agreed to the arbitration of the unfair labor practice. The ability of unions to force litigation in two forums had not existed since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act.

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On January 25, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board reaffirmed its adherence to the traditional common law independent contractor test for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the National Labor Relations Act.

In SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., the Board expressly overruled its 2014 FedEx Home Delivery decision. In FedEx, the Board drastically reduced the significance of entrepreneurial opportunity in the determination of independent contractor status. FedEx emphasized the right to control factors relevant to the so-called “economic realities” test and gave weight to whether a worker was in fact “seizing” actual opportunities and rendering services as part of their own independent business.

SuperShuttle DFW, Inc. is significant as it abandons the Obama-era standard and gives a boost to companies using contract labor by elevating the importance of entrepreneurial opportunity in the independent contractor analysis. Insodoing, the Board returns the legal framework to its traditional common law roots and adds the examination of entrepreneurial opportunity. The decision suggests that moving forward, the Board “evaluate the common-law factors through the prism of entrepreneurial opportunity when the specific factual circumstances of the case make such an evaluation appropriate.”

Continue Reading Emphasizing “Entrepreneurial Opportunity,” The NLRB Returns To Business-Friendly Independent Contractor Test

(Thank you to our Baker McKenzie colleagues in Mexico for sharing this alert.)

As a result of a change in government leadership and recently signed laws and treaties, companies in Mexico now have an important “to do” for 2019: prepare to review any unions that are “on the books” and assess compliance in this new environment.

What are “White Unions”?

  • White Unions in Mexico are usually employer-friendly unions that — due to current legislation deficiencies — can effectively bar entry of other unions who might otherwise attempt to gain a foothold in the workplace. They have little to no actual membership and do not actively represent workers. Historically, any union could petition for unionization without the need to prove the support of workers.

What changed?

Continue Reading Companies Doing Business In Mexico Need To Revisit Union Relationships

The UK Cabinet and EU leaders have now approved a draft withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of UK withdrawal from the EU. With the agreement still to be approved by the European and UK parliaments, our London Employment & Compensation team recently released a report analyzing the potential people implications of a “deal” verse “no deal” scenario. Click here to access.

For more Brexit-related news, please visit our Brexit blog or our central Brexit information hub.

Government contractors are familiar with the obligation to retain minority or women-owned businesses as subcontractors to obtain government work. Increasingly, apex private sector businesses require participation by minority or women-owned businesses as a condition of obtaining work, as well.

A recent decision by the federal court for the Southern District of New York is a cautionary tale, and highlights the care required when terminating a minority business enterprise (MBE) sub-contractor. Annuity Funds Operating Engineers Local 15 v. Tightseal, No. 17-CV-3670 (S.D.N.Y. August 14, 2018).

Continue Reading Termination Of An MBE Can Lead To Liability

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.

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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

But Are They Right for Your Workforce?

The US Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated decision on May 21, 2018 in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, holding that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are fully enforceable, notwithstanding the right to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

Although employers now have a tool to effectively eliminate most employment class actions through the use of arbitration agreements, several other important nuances remain to be considered before rolling out an arbitration program.

Click here to learn more about the decision and what it means for your business.