Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Section 7

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Update: NLRB Final Rule Governing Employee-Status of Student Workers May Issue As Soon As September 2020

As we previously reported, the NLRB published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in September 2019 regarding the employee-status of student workers at private colleges and universities. Under the proposed rule, the NLRB seeks to establish that undergraduate and graduate students performing services for compensation, including teaching and research, in connection with their studies are … Continue Reading

NLRB GC Issues Guidance Memo Laying Out Changes to Evidence Collection in Unfair Labor Practice Investigations

NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a Memorandum on June 17th setting forth new guidelines for how Regions conduct unfair labor practice investigations—specifically, how Regions secure the testimony of former supervisors and agents, as well as how to handle audio recordings.  The stated goal of the Memo is to “promote transparency and apply fairness” during … Continue Reading

NLRB Establishes Bright-Line Test Denying Jurisdiction over Religious Educational Institutions

We have seen this movie before.  NLRB precedent established by the Board under the prior Administration conflicted sharply with decisions by the D.C. Circuit reviewing the Board.  Then the current iteration of the Board reverses its own precedent and sides with the D.C. Circuit.  This situation occurred recently with regard to whether the “clear and … Continue Reading

NLRB: Policy Prohibiting Personal Cell Phones in Work Areas Due to Safety Concerns May Be Lawful under Boeing

As we previously suggested, the NLRB’s adoption of the Boeing standard for determining the lawfulness of employer’s workplace rules, policies and handbook provisions has provided significant fodder for interesting cases. The Board has struggled for years with the concept that certain commonsense employer business policies can be unlawful. It is difficult to draw bright-line rules … Continue Reading

Employer’s Poll of Workforce Not Unlawful Mass Interrogation, NLRB Rules

When it comes to an unfair practice allegation asserting an employer’s statement is unlawful, words matter.  And, so does context.  Under NLRB case law, the actual employer statements are evaluated as well as the overall context the words were uttered to determine whether there exists coercion.  Recently, the NLRB addressed an unusual case where an … Continue Reading

Applying the Boeing Standard, NLRB Upholds Employer’s Policies Restricting Cell Phone Use, Non-Work Email Use and Disclosure of Confidential Information

Applying the facially neutral work rule test laid out in Boeing (see here), the Board recently reversed an Administrative Law Judge decision, concluding that the employer maintained lawful workplace rules restricting employee use of (i) cell phones in commercial vehicles, (ii) the company email server for purposes not related to work, and (iii) the disclosure … Continue Reading

Congress Passes Labor-Friendly “PRO Act”

On Thursday, February 6, 2020 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, also known as the “PRO Act”.  The legislation (which can be viewed here), passed mostly along party lines, would provide sweeping changes to the NLRA that would enhance greatly the ability of unions to organize employees and … Continue Reading

Buttoning Up Rules on Union Insignia – Board Makes It Easier for Employers to Restrict Size and Scope of Union Buttons For Those With Customer Contact Work

The Board continues churning out precedent-setting decisions as year-end approaches.  Two days before the Christmas holiday, in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 368 NLRB No. 146 (Dec. 16, 2019), the NLRB applied its new view on handbook rules—the Boeing test—to Wal-Mart’s policy that employees can only wear “small, non-distracting” union insignia in the workplace, holding that the … Continue Reading

Busy Board Returns to Rule Permitting Workplace Confidentiality Restrictions during an Employer’s Investigation

As anticipated, in one of the last decisions before the end of Member McFerran’s term, the NLRB issued another important opinion.  Reverting back to precedent that preceded a 2015 decision, the Board, in Apogee Retail LLC d/b/a Unique Thrift Store, 368 NLRB No. 144 (2019), held that an employer’s confidentiality restrictions for information relating to … Continue Reading

Unpaid Interns are Not Statutory Employees, NLRB Concludes

The National Labor Relations Board recently held that a group of employees who were advocating on behalf of unpaid interns were not engaged in protected activity because the interns were not “employees” as that term is defined in Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act.  In so doing, the Board reaffirmed its longstanding precedent … Continue Reading

NLRB Continues to Aid Workers in Ousting Unions

The NLRB recently reiterated its position that the agency should not be so quick to dismiss petitions filed by employees seeking to decertify a union. The Board, in a 3-1 decision, held that if a petition for decertification is properly filed prior to the employer entering into an agreement settling unfair labor practice charges in … Continue Reading

Moment of Clarity? NLRB Upholds Info-Sharing and Media Contact Rules, Clarifies Boeing Standard Applicable to Employer Handbook Policies

The NLRB continues to issue decisions on a variety of interesting issues.  On October 10, the Board held, in LA Specialty Produce Co., 368 NLRB No. 93 (Oct. 10, 2019), that an employer’s strong confidentiality protections and limited media availability rules were lawful, and in so doing, clarified the analysis under the newly-issued Boeing standard, … Continue Reading

NLRB Proposes Rule to Settle Once and For All: Student Teaching and Research Assistants Are Not “Employees”

As anticipated, today the National Labor Relations Board published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing a regulation which would establish that students at private colleges and universities who perform any services related to their studies for compensation, including teaching and research, are not “employees” within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor … Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board: Labor Day Roundup

While much of the country spent the last week of summer enjoying the last few days of sun, the National Labor Relations Board spent the week before its eponymous three-day weekend churning out a couple of important decisions. A brief round-up of the Board’s recent activity in areas related to the intersection of Section 7 … Continue Reading

NLRB Issues “Epic” Decision Concerning the Intersection of Mandatory Arbitration Agreements and NLRA Section 7 Rights

On August 14, 2019, the NLRB issued its first decision addressing employer conduct related to mandatory arbitration agreements and Section 7 activity since the Supreme Court decided Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis, 584 U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1612 (2018).  In Epic Systems (discussed more fully here), the Supreme Court held that agreements between employers and … Continue Reading

Employer’s Discipline of Employees Engaging In “Intermittent Strikes” Lawful: NLRB Majority

This summer has been punctuated by walkouts.  We have seen walkouts in support of a $15 minimum wage and walkouts to protest the sale of goods to the government. Walking off the job is, of course, a staple of labor action, and generally speaking, employees are protected by the NLRA when the walkout is over … Continue Reading

Recent ALJ Decision Provides Important Nuance Regarding Workplace No Recording Rules

In late 2017, the NLRB in Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017), established a new three category system for classifying various employer policies. The new system was designed to balance a “work rule’s negative impact on employees’ ability to exercise their Section 7 rights and the rule’s connection to employers’ right to maintain discipline … Continue Reading

Employer’s Campaign Prediction That Employees Would Have To Join Union And Pay Dues As Condition Of Employment Not Coercive, NLRB Majority Rules

The NLRB currently is churning out cases and Advice Memoranda at a fairly regular pace.  We recently discussed NLRB decisions addressing information requests, handbook statements, and confidential informants. An interesting area of NLRB case law concerns campaign statements,–statements made by employer representatives during an organizing campaign.  When there is an allegation of wrongdoing, the Board evaluates such employer … Continue Reading

NLRB Office of the General Counsel Advises that Uber Drivers Are Not Statutory “Employees”

In an Advice Memorandum dated April 16, 2019, but released on May 14, 2019, the NLRB’s General Counsel staked out a position in one of the most contentious and influential questions in labor and employment law today: Whether or not Uber drivers ­– and by implication, potentially, other “gig economy” workers – are statutory employees … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Weighs In On NLRB Test For Adjunct Faculty Unionization

Colleges and universities should take note of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision in University of Southern California v. National Labor Relations Board, Case No. 17-1149 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 12, 2019) addressing whether non-tenure track faculty at universities are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), giving them the right … Continue Reading

Are Charter Schools Covered by the National Labor Relations Act? NLRB to Reconsider Its Jurisdiction over Charter Schools

On February 4, the NLRB granted United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, AFT, AFL-CIO’s (the “Union”) request for review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election concerning a decertification petition filed by several teachers at a charter school.  In so doing, the Board invited filing of briefs regarding whether the Board should decline … Continue Reading

Employee’s Complaint About Low Tippers Not Protected Concerted Activity, NLRB Majority Rules

The right of employees to band together for purposes of bringing grievances to their employer is at the very core of the National Labor Relations Act, as embodied in Section 7. This right is called protected concerted activity.  In order to determine whether an employee is, in fact, engaged in protected concerted activity, it is necessary to … Continue Reading

Another Obama-Board Decision Overturned: NLRB Reverts to Traditional Common-Law Agency Independent-Contractor Test and Foreshadows Potential Rulemaking

On January 25, 2019, in a long-anticipated decision, the NLRB overturned another Obama-Board decision, FedEx Home Delivery, 361 NLRB 610 (2014), which modified the test for whether an individual is an “employee” or an independent contractor under the NLRA (read about that decision here).  The Board, in a 3-1 decision (Chairman Ring and Members Kaplan … Continue Reading

Employer’s Litigation Hold Not Unlawful, NLRB Division of Advice Concludes

Last year about this time, the NLRB changed the standard for reviewing handbook rules.  The new standard takes into consideration the fact  there are many other interests other than the NLRA at play in a workplace, and seems to have quieted the frenzied scrutiny of employer policies. Over the years, the heightened scrutiny of employer policies has resulted in … Continue Reading
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