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.

Welcome news for employers: companies can require their workers go through arbitration to pursue any legal claims against their employers, rather than go to court or join together in class lawsuits or grievances, the US Supreme Court held today in a 5-4 vote.

Writing for the majority in three consolidated cases (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v.  Murphy Oil  USA, Inc., and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris), Justice Neil Gorsuch said the Federal Arbitration Act sets a strong policy favoring the enforcement of arbitration agreements, and employees of the three companies failed to show they had any right to disregard the arbitration agreements they signed.

The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress’s statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.

The ruling means that companies can enforce their class action waiver agreements and their employees will have to pursue their claims in individual arbitration proceedings. Please stay tuned for more to come from us on the actions employers should take now in response to this important decision.

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

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

Baker McKenzie partner Ben Ho introduces Nadege Dallais to talk about employment laws in France and give an overview of what has changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect for the year ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  1. It should become easier for international companies in France to demonstrate that they are experiencing financial difficulties when trying to support economic dismissals.
  2. Damages in connection with unfair dismissals will become a bit more predictable because French law now places both a floor and a ceiling on the amount of damages available.
  3. Employee representation will become more simplified with employee delegates, health and safety committee and works councils being merged into one social and economic committee known as the CSE.
  4. In-house collective bargaining agreements should introduce more flexibility to employers because they will now be able to govern areas that historically were only set by law.

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Baker McKenzie partner Kerry Weinger introduces Liliana Hernandez-Salgado from Mexico City to talk about employment laws in Mexico and give an overview of what has changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect for the year ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Companies doing business in Mexico must stay tuned for further developments related to outsourcing regulations. Meanwhile companies with a traditional corporate structure of two legal entities, must review their corporate structure and outsourcing arrangements to mitigate labor, social security and tax risks.
  2. 2018 appears to be a year of significant amendments to the labor legislation in Mexico, mainly related to procedures to resolve individual and collective disputes. The amendment to the Mexican Constitution in 2017 could represent significant changes related to freedom of association, by establishing the obligation for unions to prove that they represent workers of the Company in order to file a strike call for the execution of a collective bargaining agreement. If the Mexican labor laws are amended in these terms, the practice of companies in Mexico to execute collective bargaining agreements to prevent a strike call, commonly known as “protection agreements”, will come to its end.
  3. Companies must review their anti-corruption, discrimination and harassment policies in the workplace. The implementation of appropriate policies, not only allow companies to impose disciplinary actions against employees who breach them, but they also prevent risks for the Company, including penalties from government agencies, payment of damages and even criminal liability.

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The NLRB’s roller coaster ride that is its joint employer standard took another sharp turn Monday, when the Board unanimously agreed to vacate its recent employer-friendly joint employer decision and to restore the joint employer standard adopted in Browning-Ferris.

Continue Reading NLRB Vacates Employer-Friendly Joint Employer Decision Over Conflict Of Interest Concerns

Be sure to download our 15 minute podcast about employment laws in Brazil. Baker McKenzie partner Kerry Weinger introduces Leticia Ribeiro from Sao Paulo to talk about employment laws in Brazil and give an overview of what has changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect for the year ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  1. With the labor reform, it is time to revisit local practices, policies and agreements, and confirm that they are consistent with the new law
  2. While it is important to adjust to the new provisions of the labor code, it is important to do so with caution as we are hearing that the labor court judges might be a bit resistant to some changes that were recently introduced
  3. With the very near implementation of the eSocial program, multinational employer must be ready to start the required reporting and that the information reported will not create any issues

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We are pleased to report that a California federal judge put to rest claims by a proposed class of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. workers that they weren’t given adequate meal breaks and rest periods, saying the company was exempted from liability by a valid collective bargaining agreement.

In reconsidering a portion of his November ruling that granted the construction and engineering services provider partial summary judgment over various wage and hour claims brought by lead plaintiff Peter Zayerz under the California Labor Code, Judge Gutierrez acknowledged he had mistakenly failed to consider in his earlier decision whether the company was exempt from liability for the meal and rest period claims by a collective bargaining agreement that was in place between 2012 and 2015, the time period in which Zayerz’s claims arose.

“The court concedes that it failed to consider a material issue of law in its prior order, namely that the governing CBA exempts defendant from liability under the labor code for the meal and rest period claims,” Judge Gutierrez said.

With that, Judge Gutierrez awarded Kiewit summary judgment on all remaining claims and closed the case. Kiewit is represented by our own Arthur J. Rooney, Todd K. Boyer, Benjamin R. Buchwalter, Alexis Hawley and Melissa Logan.

The case is Peter Zayerz v. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. et al., case number 2:16-cv-06405, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Find the write-up in Law360 HERE.