Fear, emotionally charged perspectives on the Trump administration's immigration policy and deeply embedded religious views are all topics ripe for disagreements possibly escalating into use of slurs, threats and insults. The workplace, where many of us spend the majority of our weekdays, is one place where these agreements may percolate to a dangerous boiling point.
On March 24, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act ("AHCA"), a proposal to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, because it lacked enough support to pass. So, where does this leave the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? That's such a good question; if you know, please let me know ASAP.
In the March, 2017 Client Alert, the Author submitted an Article on giving guidance to Employers in the creation of good documentation to substantiate and defend Employment Decisions when those Decisions are called into question. While the presence (or lack thereof) of good documentation can be the success or failure in any Employment Litigation, there are certain situations where an Employer's documentation may create a "tangled web" in which an Employer catches himself/herself.
On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ("D.C. Circuit") issued a forceful decision strongly in favor of FedEx and its claims of independent contractor status for some of its drivers. The D.C. Circuit squarely disagreed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which had held that single-route Ground Division drivers for FedEx were employees (and not independent contractors) under the NLRB independent contractor test. FedEx Home Delivery, an Operating Division of FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. v. NLRB, Nos. 14-1196, 15-1066, 15-1116 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 3, 2017).
For the last several years, my advice to union-free clients has been consistent. Even in the face of quickie NLRB elections, employers have the upper hand. Unions in the private sector today are a pale shadow of what they once were. Labor unions can be kept out of your organization with only modest preventative measures. Most of you have a copy of and use my 25 point "ABCs of Staying Union Free". I further distilled these recommendations down to my "Top Ten Tips for Staying Union Free" and they form the basis for a seminar presentation earlier this year. Here they are:
In what will certainly be considered a landmark appellate court decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College yesterday concluding that individuals can bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By a vote of 8-3, the Court held that discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation" (which is not explicitly listed as a protected class under Title VII) is equivalent to discrimination on the basis of "sex" (which is listed as a protected class).
President Trump continues to make immigration enforcement a central pillar of his agenda. Just last month, DHS Secretary John Kelly called for 10,000 more immigration officers to implement President Trump's executive orders on immigration. While enforcement policies certainly affect immigrants, they also impact employers, even those who do not employ any foreign workers.
In Minnesota, as in most every state, terminated employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits if they are dismissed for misconduct. In 2003, the legislature amended the statute to define "employment misconduct" as "any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job that displays clearly: (1) a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee, or (2) that demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for the employment." However, despite this effort to more clearly define employee misconduct for purposes of unemployment compensation, there remains plenty of room for disagreement, depending upon the facts in each particular case. This dilemma was recently born out in Wilson v. Mortgage Resource Center, Inc. The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals that had found an employee's misrepresentations about her education on her job application, did not constitute "employment misconduct." In disagreeing with the Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Supreme Court in effect recognized that employers have the right to reasonably expect the truth from job applicants. Still, the outcome of this case was determined by the particular facts of the case and therefore employers can learn from (and take advantage of) its lessons.
Over the many years during which I have helped Illinois companies with their use of independent contractors, the most urgent call I get is from Illinois companies who have just found out they are going to be audited by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
Former Illinois employees of the popular restaurant chain Applebee's will receive restitution for earned but unused vacation time as part of a $650,000 settlement agreement announced in March. The settlement agreement will cover approximately 5,200 workers who left Applebee's between 2003 and 2013 and were not paid for earned vacation time as part of their final pay. Naturally, this settlement provides a valuable lesson to Illinois employers at Applebee's expense. With that in mind, here are a few key takeaways for employers: