Executive Summary: Following recent attacks on the employment at-will doctrine by one of the NLRB’s Regions, the Board has stepped its position back somewhat, issuing two Advice Memorandums through its Associate General Counsel. In these opinions, the Board’s Associate General Counsel takes the position that many employment at-will provisions may not violate employees’ Section 7 rights.
Executive Summary: Hurricane Sandy has swept through the east coast, leaving in its aftermath a path of devastation and destruction. Although there are no immediate estimates of losses from the storm, some have stated that the scope of the damage could be in the billions; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has called it “incalculable.” See James Barron, After the Devastation, a Daunting Recovery, N.Y. Times, October 31, 2012 at A1. In addition to dealing with the physical damage from the storm, when employers are finally able to resume business they will be faced with a variety of operational concerns as well as employment-related issues. This Alert highlights some of the employment-related issues that employers may face.
On October 18, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. The Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) joins the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island) in holding that DOMA’s definition of marriage unconstitutional. The ruling sets the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court potentially to hear the issue in the coming months.
On October 18, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting various limitations applicable to pension and other retirement plans (IR 2012-77). Many of the limitations remain unchanged because they are indexed in $1000 or $5000 increments, but several will change for 2013. Some of the better-known limitations are:
Executive Summary: During the past year, the National Labor Relations Board has begun chipping away at the employment at-will doctrine. Based on the activities of one of its regional offices, the Board appears intent on limiting the at-will doctrine by finding that at-will acknowledgments in employment handbooks violate employees’ Section 7 rights.
Executive Summary: On September 27, 2012, two members of the New Jersey Assembly introduced Assembly Bill 3310, which authorizes the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) to investigate, mediate and prosecute claims by certain independent contractors that they were not properly paid in their transactions with businesses and non-profits. The bill imposes additional record-keeping requirements on businesses and non-profits that contract with certain independent contractors and establishes civil and criminal penalties for violations of the law. If passed, this law would create a minefield for all businesses and non-profits in New Jersey who use independent contractors and could severely hurt New Jersey sole proprietors.
Executive Summary: In its first published discipline/discharge decision involving employee Facebook access, the National Labor Relations Board has upheld the termination of an employee whose Facebook posts mocked an accident on his employer’s property.
Executive Summary: On Friday, September 21, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a “Gender Pay Parity” bill that imposes a new notice posting requirement on covered employers. The governor rejected a second bill that would have increased reporting requirements for public contractors and sent the remaining two bills back to the legislature with significant amendments.
Executive Summary: The Department of Labor’s Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS) has announced that it is extending the deadline for the submission of VETS-100/VETS-100A reports from September 30 to October 31, 2012.
Executive Summary: Two new amendments to New York General Business Law Section 399-dd, commonly known as the Social Security Number Protection Law, have been passed for the purpose of further safeguarding employees’ social security numbers. Signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on August 14, 2012, the first change becomes effective on November 12, 2012, while the effective date for the second change is December 12, 2012. The two amendments will be codified as Section 399-ddd.
As election time draws near, employers must be prepared to deal with numerous workplace issues that can arise from political discussions and campaigning in the workplace. With controversial issues such as race, immigration, family values, national security and the economy on the political forefront, friendly workplace banter can quickly devolve into contentious disputes. Employers need to be aware of their legal rights and obligations in addressing political discussions and activities in the workplace, as well as the practical impact of their actions.
The OFCCP recently published two notices announcing the rescission of certain agency directives that either contain outdated information or address issues that are addressed in other agency materials. The OFCCP maintains a Directive System as one means of distributing guidance to its staff members and to the public. The OFCCP has been reviewing agency directives since December 2011 to determine whether they should remain active or be rescinded.
Executive Summary: In a 2-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that an employer’s efforts to protect the integrity of its internal investigations by instructing employees involved in the investigations not to discuss the matter with co-workers violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). See Banner Health System, Case 28–CA–023438 (July 30, 2012).
Executive Summary: Illinois has joined a growing trend to protect workers from employers who want access to their Facebook or other social networking accounts. On August 1, 2012, Governor Quinn signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.
Executive Summary: The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed an award of over $400,000 in attorneys’ fees in favor of a group of ex-employees in a trade secret misappropriation lawsuit filed by their former employer, finding that the lawsuit was filed in bad faith. This decision highlights the importance of considering carefully whether to bring a misappropriation claim where there is little or no evidence of actual misappropriation. See SASCO v. Rosendin Electric, Inc.