In State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland I/O as Governor of the State of Connecticut, Connecticut Governor Dannell Molloy attempted to extract $450 million in long-term concessions from the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) and 13 other public employee unions during the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement. Notably, these unions represented 40,000 Connecticut state employees. The Governor advised the plaintiffs that unless they agreed to the concessions, he would fire approximately 3,000 unionized state employees. When the plaintiffs not only failed to agree to the Governor’s proposed concessions but also offered alternative concessions, the Governor ordered the firing of approximately 2,800 union employees.
On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the Common Council of the City of Buffalo followed the lead of New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia, when it passed its own “ban the box” ordinance by a vote of 7-2. The ordinance, which amends Chapter 154 of the Code of the City of Buffalo, and which passed by enough votes to override any potential veto by Mayor Byron W. Brown, prevents the City of Buffalo, its vendors, and any Buffalo employer with at least 15 employees from asking questions regarding or pertaining to an applicant’s prior criminal convictions on any employment application.
Watch what you wish for. There is a line in the sand between protected group activity and general “griping.” The distinction is critical, however, as it may spell the difference between unemployment or the impingement upon protected speech. In Tasker Healthcare Group, d/b/a Skinsmart Dermatology, the Charging Party participated in a group message on Facebook in which she utilized some harsh, and very critical language regarding her employment position. The conversation culminated with the charging party’s statements: “FIRE ME … Make my day.” When the employer did just that, the Charging Party unsuccessfully challenged the decision before the NLRB.
The divergence of opinion between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has just widened considerably. Three months after the D.C. Circuit ruled that certain board actions were invalid due to constitutionally invalid appointments by President Barack Obama (Noel Canning v. NLRB), the court, in National Association of Manufacturers v. NLRB, has invalidated a 2012 board rule providing that: 1) any employers subject to the board’s jurisdiction would be liable for an unfair labor practice if they did not post on their properties and on their websites a “Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act;” 2) the failure to post would toll the six-month statute of limitations for filing an unfair labor practice charge; and 3) the board may consider an employer’s knowing and willing refusal to comply with the posting requirement as “evidence of unlawful motive in a case in which motive is an issue.”
In Connecticut, a private employer’s right to discipline an employee for speech made within the scope of his employment and as part of his official duties was established when the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its ruling in Schumann v. Dianon Systems, Inc., 43 A.3d 111, 304 Conn. 585 (Conn. 2012). In Schumann, the Connecticut Supreme Court applied to the private sector the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S 410 (2006), which applied to public employers. In Garcetti, the U.S. Supreme Court held that employee speech that related to his or her job duties was not protected by the First Amendment.
In a decision handed down last week, the Second Circuit reaffirmed its long-standing holding that a “paramour preference” — a situation where a supervisor shows favoritism towards one employee over another due to the existence of a romantic relationship between the supervisor and the favored employee — does not give rise to claims for sexual discrimination under either Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the New York State Human Rights Law. Moreover, the court also held that retaliatory acts allegedly taken in response to complaints about the existence of such a paramour relationship were similarly not actionable.
On April 25, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in Bowman v. Sunoco, Inc. that a waiver of a right to sue third parties for injuries covered by workers’ compensation — signed as a condition of employment — bars a negligence lawsuit against the employer’s customers.
Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA – a summary of decisions from across the country concerning life, health, and disability policies, including those governed by ERISA.
On March 28, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in SDBC Holdings Inc. f/k/a Stella D’oro Biscuit Co., Inc. v. NLRB which held that an employer is not obligated to provide a union with copies of a financial statement, unless, it takes the position during bargaining that it is unable to pay any increased wages. This ruling is highly critical of the reasoning used by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It is an important decision for employers in this circuit on the subject of an employer’s duty to provide financial information and on the subject of impasse and implementation of the final offer.
The New York State Court of Appeals had good news for municipal employers in the state when it clarified a provision of the 2009 law that created a contributory tier for newly hired police and firefighters in the state. In two decisions issued on April 2 of this year the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that police officers and firefighters hired after January 1, 2010, must make contributions toward their pensions — even if the language of the applicable collective bargaining agreements states that employees are not required to contribute toward their pensions.
In a recent decision with profound implications for defending workers’ compensation claims in New York, the Court of Appeals reversed the First Department and held that the doctrine of collateral estoppel bars a plaintiff from litigating duration of disability in New York State Supreme Court when the plaintiff previously litigated the same issue to a full and final decision as a claimant in a corresponding matter before the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).
On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N. According to the USCIS website, “improvements to Form I-9 include new fields, reformatting to reduce errors, and clearer instructions to both employees and employers.” The most noticeable change for employers will likely be the length of the actual Form I-9 that must be completed by the employer and employee, which has increased from one page to two pages.
A recent federal court decision provides a useful reminder that abusive and offensive behavior that is targeted at employees of one gender can amount to unlawful sexual harassment. The particular behavior involved in this case was specifically “sexual” in nature, but the court’s decision makes it clear that even behavior with no sexual content can be sexual harassment if it is directed only at males or only at females.
Brace yourselves, employers: March Madness is upon us. The 2013 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament will start with play-in games on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, and conclude with the Championship Game on Monday, April 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. During the tournament’s three weeks, the United States economy will lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity as employees watch early round games, participate in office pools, and discuss the outcomes with co-workers. (Fantasy sports activity in the work place has become an even more widespread issue, as Goldberg Segalla’s Seth L. Laver and Michael P. Luongo explained in an article titled “Fantasy Sports: A Real Game-Changer for Employers.”)
A bill was recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate that would significantly restrict an employer’s ability to ask about and consider a current or future employee’s criminal history in the employment process. Bill No. S.2586, also known as the Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA) or “Ban the Box” bill, would prohibit private and public New Jersey employers from directly or indirectly inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history until after a “conditional offer of employment” has been made.