Does an employer automatically engage in unlawful discrimination when it grants an improved benefit to its non-union employees but withholds the improvement from its union employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement? In a recent decision, Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp, 367 NLRB No. 122, issued on May 7, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said No. This is an important decision because it clearly delineates the difference between mere disparate treatment (which is lawful) and actionable discrimination (unlawful) and brings clarity to an employer’s duty to bargain over changing working conditions during the term of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Continue Reading It’s OK to Be Different- NLRB Rules That Union Represented Employees Are Not Entitled to Midterm Bargaining Over Same Paid Holiday Granted to Non-Represented Employees

Last August, we wrote about a Chicago ordinance requiring hotel employers to, among other things, equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices. The emergency contact devices, referred to as “panic buttons,” may be used to summon help if the employee reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency is occurring in the employee’s presence. The Chicago ordinance took effect July 1, 2018.
Continue Reading “Panic Button” Laws Make Their Way Across The U.S.

The NLRB announced yesterday, a Request for Information (“RFI”) on the Board’s 2014 “Quickie Election” representation regulations (at 29 CFR parts 101 and 102). The RFI seeks input on the amendments to representation case procedures, which drastically changed the process for NLRB conducted elections in which employees vote on whether they want to be represented by a union. The RFI was approved by Board Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra and Board Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel. Board Members Mark Gaston Pearce and Lauren McFerran dissented.
Continue Reading New Labor Board May Kill “Quickie Election” Rule; Requests Public RFI

On November 8, 2017, Peter B. Robb was sworn in as the General Counsel (GC) of the NLRB for a four year term. Robb succeeds Richard Griffin, who has been the GC since November 2013. Robb wasted no time in taking initial steps to undo many of the NLRB’s more controversial recent decisions. On December 1, 2017, Robb issued Memorandum 18-02 directing the NLRB’s regional offices on which types of charges should be submitted to his Division of Advice and rescinding policy memoranda issued by the prior GCs.
Continue Reading New Labor Board GC Signals Overturning Obama-Era Rulings, But Anticipated Vacancies and Recusals Create Uncertainty

Senate Republicans recently confirmed William Emanuel, the second Trump nominee to the five-member National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”), giving the Board a Republican majority for the first time since 2007. Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation follows the September 25, 2017 appointment of Peter Robb, a management-side labor and employment lawyer, as General Counsel of the Board. Each of President Trump’s recent appointments are expected to advance the president’s pro-business and pro-employer policies. In particular, Mr. Robb’s replacement of the current General Counsel, Richard Griffin, is a crucial step towards upending the Board’s recent anti-employer rulings.
Continue Reading Labor Relations Update: New NLRB General Counsel Nominee Poised to Undo Obama-Era Precedents

On May 23, the NLRB issued Road Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669, finding that U.A. Local 669 (Union) violated the NLRA when it sought to apply and enforce facially
Continue Reading NLRB Orders Union To Drop Unlawful Grievance, to Dismiss Suit Seeking to Compel Neutral Employers to Arbitrate Grievance and to Pay The Employers’ Legal Fees and Defense Costs

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “the Board”) reversed standing precedent and held that student assistants at private universities, including both graduate and undergraduate teaching and research assistants, qualify as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and may accordingly join unions to collectively bargain with their employers.  The case, Columbia University, 364 NLRB 90 (2016), offers yet another indication of the strength of the Board’s commitment to maintaining and expanding its presence in a rapidly changing employment environment – and its willingness to overrule itself to do so
Continue Reading NLRB Allows Student Assistants to Unionize, Signals Commitment to Expanding Its Reach

On May 26, 2016, in the matter of Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that an arbitration agreement, which required employees to submit to individual arbitration for any wage and hour claims against the company, violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and is unenforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).  In issuing this decision, the Seventh Circuit gave credence to the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) decision in D. R. Horton and, in doing so, has created a split amongst U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal regarding the enforceability of arbitration agreements that preclude class actions.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Holds Class Action Waivers are Unlawful and Unenforceable Creating a Circuit Split