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The Department of Labor Issues the Most Expansive Definition Yet of Joint-Employer Status

In its first major guidance of 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a definition of joint-employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act that is even broader than the definition of joint-employer status issued by the National Labor Relations Board last summer. Coupled with its 2015 guidance on the misclassification of independent contractors, the DOL has greatly expanded the definition both of who is an employee and who is an employer. Read the full article.

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Acting General Counsel of the NLRB Issues Second Report on Social Media

by Heather Egan Sussman, Linda Doyle and Sabrina Dunlap On Wednesday, January 25, 2012, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon released a second report describing social media cases reviewed by his office. The report (Operations Management Memo) addresses 14 cases related to social media and employer social media policies.  Many of the cases reviewed involved employees who had been discharged after they posted comments on Facebook. The general counsel found that a number of the terminations were improper because employees had engaged in protected activity and their terminations arose from unlawful employer policies. However, the general counsel upheld several terminations - despite overly broad employer policies - where the employees involved were not engaged in protected activity and had merely posted general complaints or individual gripes unrelated to working conditions or wages. The report emphasizes...

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ALJ Finds Employee’s Facebook Comments Unrelated to Working Conditions are not Protected Under the NLRA

by Stephen D. Erf, Heather Egan Sussman and Sabrina E. Dunlap Two weeks ago, we wrote about a decision from an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) (available here) finding that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protected an employee’s Facebook comments made about his employer.  Last week, an ALJ issued another decision involving social media and the NLRA, finding that an employee had engaged in some protected activity, but that he was ultimately fired for other, unprotected activity.  In Karl Knauz Motors, a former salesperson claimed that he was fired after he posted pictures and comments on Facebook criticizing his employer’s choice of serving hot dogs at a sales event introducing the new BMW 5-series.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a report related to social media (found here), in which it noted the employee’s posts in the BMW case were protected activity because they related to the terms and conditions of employment. While the...

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Administrative Law Judge Finds Employer Unlawfully Discharged Employees Based on Facebook Posts

by Stephen D. Erf, Heather Egan Sussman and Sabrina E. Dunlap In a first of its kind ruling, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that an employer unlawfully terminated five employees because they posted comments on Facebook related to working conditions.  This is a landmark decision because, up to this point, employers have only been able to rely on the prosecution trends of the General Counsel’s office, including a recently issued report on the topic, and not actual decisions by the adjudicative body of the NLRB. This landmark case involved an employee of Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB) (a nonunionized organization), who posted a message on Facebook sharing critical comments made by a coworker concerning employees’ poor job performance and asking for the employees’ reactions.  Five employees commented on the post, defending their job performance and criticizing the critical employee and their working conditions,...

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NLRB Releases Report on Social Media Decisions

by Sabrina E. Dunlap, Stephen D. Erf and Heather Egan Sussman In April 2011, we issued a blog post outlining some of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decisions regarding employee use of social media (the post can be accessed here). In an effort to provide guidance on the issue, the Acting General Counsel of the NLRB (General Counsel) recently issued a report (found here) addressing cases from the past year arising in the context of social media use. The report uses 14 cases to illustrate how the General Counsel’s office determines that use of social media qualifies as protected concerted activity, and when the mere contents of an employer’s social media policy can give rise to liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), even when an employer’s employees are not represented by a union. While the distinction between protected and unprotected activity on social media sites is not always obvious, several trends emerge from the illustrative...

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NLRB Releases Poster For Posting By November 14, 2011

by Heather Egan Sussman, Sabrina E. Dunlap and Stephen D. Erf As an update to our previous blog entry, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has released the private employer notice of rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  As of November 14, 2011, covered employers must post the 11-by-17-inch notice in a conspicuous place, where other notifications of workplace rights and employer rules and policies are posted.  The NLRB states that employers also should publish the notice on an internal or external website if other personnel policies or workplace notices are posted there. The NLRB has also posted Frequently Asked Questions on the posting requirement, which covers topics such as when employers are covered by the NLRA, and what to do if a substantial share of the workplace speaks a language other than English.

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NLRB Issues Final Rule on Notification of Employee Rights

by Stephen Erf and Heather Egan Sussman The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a final rule requiring private sector employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  The Rule requires private sector employers who fall under the National Labor Relations Act to post the employee rights notice in conspicuous places at where other workplace rights notices are usually posted. The new notice states that employees have the right to act together to improve working conditions and wages, to form, join and assist unions, to collective bargaining, or to refrain from any of these activities. The notice also provides examples of illegal conduct and tells employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints. NLRB regional offices will provide the notice of rights at no charge, or the notice can be downloaded from the Board website and printed in color or black and white.  Translated versions, which will also be...

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Recent NLRB Activity Zeroes In On Social Media Policies

by Stephen D. Erf, Heather Egan Sussman, Christopher Scheithauer and Sabrina E. Dunlap The law is not new – it’s just being applied to our newest forms of communication:  Twitter, Facebook and others.  Even the legal framework is relatively straightforward: Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects “concerted activities,” which include circumstances where employees seek to “initiate or induce” group action for “mutual aid or protection.” In today’s workplace, activities such as blogging, or posting messages on social networking websites, can be considered concerted activity, and unless the activity falls within one of the exceptions to the NLRA’s protections (e.g., confidentiality breaches, extreme disloyalty, etc.), the law limits an employer’s control over what employees may write and post.  In one recent case, the National Labor Relations...

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