The Labor Law Insider continues the discussion in this podcast episode with Tom Godar, Tom O’Day, Terry Potter and Rufino Gaytán on actions employers should take proactively to deter unions from garnering employee support in the workplace. Shifting social issues in and outside the workplace along with significant public support for labor unions subject all
During the last half of May 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) issued four decisions upholding the legality of employer facially neutral work rules. Two of the decisions applied the Boeing standard to assess the legality of work rules or policies while the other two decisions restored past precedent to find that an employers’ property rights outweighed employees’ right to engage in protected activities under §7 of the National Labor Relations Act (Act). The key highlights of those decisions, including guidance on drafting work rules and policies that are lawful under the Boeing standard, are summarized below. …
Continue Reading NLRB Decisions Restore Employers’ Right to Use Work Rules to Control Workplace
- Media policies which prohibit employees from communicating with the media must be narrowly tailored to protect legitimate business interests such as protecting confidential information and controlling statements made on behalf of the employer; and
- Media policies that specifically exclude communications by employees that are not made on behalf of the employer and that
On March 16, 2020, the Board issued its decision in Baylor University Medical Center and Dora S. Camacho reversing the 2018 ALJ decision and holding that Confidentiality and No Participation in Third-Party Claim provisions in a voluntary severance agreement are lawful. The decision overrules Clark Distribution System, Shamrock Foods Co., and Metro Networks to the extent the holdings extend beyond their fact patterns involving employees who were unlawfully dismissed for exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (Act). …
Continue Reading Confidentiality and No-Participation Provisions in Voluntary Severance Agreements Lawful
COVID-19 presents a formidable health and safety challenge to employers, and unionized employers also must address issues in the context of their obligations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and a collective bargaining agreement. The broad range of issues includes both mandatory subjects of bargaining and business decisions that impact the employees of the bargaining unit. Such issues include health and safety concerns, attendance and staffing issues, wage and hour issues, leave issues, changes in work schedules, layoffs, and temporary reductions in hours or closure of the business to reduce infection rates. Missteps in effectuating these major changes can lead to violations of the NLRA and an increase in the incidence of workers refusing to work. Employer’s ability to navigate these issues successfully requires an understanding of their rights under both the collective bargaining agreement and federal law in this novel situation. Here are some key considerations and proactive measures employers can take to facilitate timely and decisive employment actions.
Continue Reading Labor Relations Issues and COVID-19: Avoiding NLRA Violations through Proactive Measures
Although the National Labor Relations Act was initially established to assist unions in organizing employees, its scope is much broader as it also protects employees’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity.” The NLRB’s interpretation of what constitutes protected concerted activity has fluctuated over the years and, in particular, under the Obama administration it expanded…
The National Labor Relations Board found that a union committed an unfair labor practice by repeatedly blocking ingress and egress to a hotel for periods of one to four minutes. The opinion provides details about the union’s picketing efforts as a part of an organizing campaign. The blockage occurred during at least ten separate occasions…
On December 14, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or the “Board”) overruled Obama-era precedent involving two highly controversial decisions governing employee handbooks and joint employment standards.
Earlier this year, President Trump appointed two Republicans to the five-member NLRB resulting in a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in a decade. As anticipated, the new “Trump Board” is beginning to dismantle a series of decisions that many believed to unfairly favor unions.
New Standard Governing Employee Handbooks
In a split 3-2 decision, the Board majority in . overturned its 2004 Lutheran Heritage standard, which had been used in recent years to render countless employer policies and rules unlawful. The former standard provided that a policy or rule is unlawful if employees could “reasonably construe” the language to bar them from exercising their rights under the NLRA, such as discussing terms and conditions of employment. For the past several years, the Lutheran Heritage standard has been heavily criticized for failing to take into account legitimate business justifications associated with employer policies, rules and handbook provisions in addition to yielding unpredictable and sometimes contradictory results. For example, the standard has deemed unlawful policies that require employees to “work harmoniously” or conduct themselves in a “positive and professional manner.”
Missouri’s new Republican governor has indicated that he fully supports right-to-work legislation, which failed to get past previous governor Jay Nixon in its last go-round. With that being the case, what would a right-to-work law mean for the employers in the state who have collective bargaining agreements with labor organizations?
First, right-to-work legislation does not…
Executive, Professional and Administrative employees are exempt from overtime requirements if they meet three tests: the salary level test; the salary basis test; and the duties test. As I am sure you have heard, new overtime regulations raise the required annual salary level from $23,660 to $47,476 (or $913 each week). Under the new salary level test, which goes into effect on December 1, 2016, exempt employees paid less than $47,476 no longer qualify for exempt status. So what is an employer to do? Here are some potential options:
1. Retain Exempt Status. Increase the employee’s annual salary to at least $47,476 and the employee will remain exempt. Please note, however, that the rules establish a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years; thus, you may be required to again increase the employee’s salary in three years to meet the new threshold. Additionally, the employee still needs to meet the duties test, and this is a good time to review compliance with that test. This is the only option that does not require the employer to track the employee’s work hours.
a. Example. Currently an exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly) and, therefore, no longer passes the new salary test. Employer raises the employee’s annual salary to $47,476. Employee retains the exemption from overtime pay under the new regulations.
2. Convert to Hourly. Convert the exempt employee from a salary to an hourly wage and begin paying overtime for more than 40 hours worked in a week. The employer must begin tracking the hours worked by the employee. Overtime hours can be controlled by limiting or forbidding overtime without the employer’s express approval.
a. Example. Currently exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly). Employer converts the employee to the equivalent hourly wage of $20 an hour ($800 ÷ 40 hours). The employee’s overtime rate would be $30 an hour ($20 x 1.5). Thus an employee who works 45 hours during one week would be paid $950 (($20 x 40 hrs) + ($30 x 5 hrs.)). Assuming the employee averages working 45 hours a week during a year, this equates to an annual salary of $49,400 ($950 a wk x 52 wks). Under these particular facts, it would be cheaper to pay the employee the $47,476 annual salary and have the employee remain exempt.
3. Remain Salaried, but Pay Overtime. Have the employee remain on a salary, but pay overtime when the employee exceeds 40 hours in a workweek. This will require the employer to track the employee’s time. The regular rate will be calculated by dividing 40 hours into the weekly salary and then paying 1 ½ times that amount for overtime hours. This may be a good option where an employee enjoys the status of a salaried employee and doesn’t want to become an hourly employee. Overtime hours can be controlled by limiting or forbidding overtime without the employer’s express approval.
a. Example. Currently exempt employee has an annual salary of $41,600 ($800 weekly). Employer retains the employee at this salary, but pays the employee overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week. The employees overtime rate would be $30 an hour (($800 ÷ 40) x 1.5). Thus, an employee who works 45 hours during one week would be paid $950 ($800 + (30 x 5)). Assuming the employee averages working 45 hours a week during a year, this equates to an annual salary of $49,400 ($950 x 52). Please note that the employee is paid the same amount whether he is paid hourly or paid a salary. Under these particular facts, it would be cheaper to pay the employee the $47,476 annual salary and have the employee remain exempt.
4. Fluctuating Workweek Plan. Use the Fixed Salary/Fluctuating Work Week plan, which is approved by the DOL regulations. Under this plan, the employee is paid a fixed salary that covers the straight time for all hours worked, including overtime hours. Thus, overtime is paid at a ½ time rate (compared to 1 ½ time rate) for the hours worked over 40 hours. Under this plan, the regular rate must be calculated each week (by dividing the total number of hours worked by the fixed salary). Certain conditions, including prior employee agreement and paying the same salary when the employee works less than 40 hours in a week, are necessary to use this plan.…
Continue Reading Employer Options Under the New DOL Regulations