Both the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seem to keep changing the definitions of joint employment. It is no wonder this has left employers scratching their head about the situation. The cause for this itch is the analysis differs depending on the law at issue. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), various state employment laws defining “employees,” common law (guided by the National Labor Relations Act), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and workers’ compensation laws all have joint employer doctrines and associated tests that are slightly different from the others.
To demonstrate these differences, we will look at two of the most recent cases that modify the joint employer analysis under both the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). Both these cases define a test – but it is not the same test. Unfortunately, the lesson is that an employer or putative employer will not know whether a person is an employee for the purposes of a particular law without determining first what test should be applied for that law.
If you are anything like me, you have been eagerly awaiting another update from the NLRB on its social media decisions. Well, wait no longer. On May 30, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel issued a third report on recent social media cases. This complements the two previous reports from January 12, 2012, and August 18, 2011. For more information on the first two reports, see my recent post.
The new report does not offer any groundbreaking new principles for employers seeking to implement or enforce social media policies. This is good news, as it means that you don’t need to rewrite your social media policy every time the NLRB issues a report. This report does elaborate on a few of the key principles, however, and it offers some new and interesting examples. It also includes as an example an entire social media policy that was found lawful.
This post looks at two recent National Labor Relations Board reports and their impact on employers' social media policies. Several planned upcoming posts will also be looking at social media and its effects on hoteliers's and restaurateurs' operations - stay tuned.
Thanks to the internet, a single disgruntled employee can now do dramatic damage to a company’s image through posts on social media sites. (Just ask Domino's Pizza or Hotel Renaissance). The social media policies employers have instituted in the last few years may work to inhibit online employer-bashing; however, they can also come perilously close to violating the law. To assist employers in navigating this rapidly changing area of law, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has issued two social media reports in the last seven months, explaining their rulings in several recent social media cases. As this posting demonstrates, even if you think you have a good social media policy, you may want to revisit it, given the latest NLRB guidance.
Employees in both unionized and non-unionized workplaces have protected rights to certain types of speech under the National Labor Relations Act. These include, briefly, the right to discuss terms and conditions of employment and unfair labor practices with coworkers and the right to engage in concerted activity. Employers who want to restrict employees from making disparaging comments about the company online must carefully phrase their policies to avoid trampling on these rights.
As you have likely read in the past months, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) recently adopted a new rule requiring almost all employers, including those with non-unionized workplaces, to post a Notice advising employees of certain rights provided to them under the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”). There was considerable controversy surrounding the new rule, and several postponements of the deadline for compliance. The deadline was last extended from January 31 to April 30, 2012, and the April 30 deadline seems to be sticking. So, if you have put the requirement out of your mind given the postponements, it is time to remember them. Information to help you comply with the posting requirement, including downloadable versions of the required Notice can be found at the Board’s site. The Notice summarizes employees’ rights to negotiate the terms of their employment, form a union, engage in collective bargaining with their employer, strike and picket. Legal restrictions on certain actions by employers and unions are also listed, along with an explanation of the obligation to bargain in good faith when a union has been selected by employees.
What are the posting requirements?
- The Notice may be downloaded from the Board’s website, but it must be printed to at least 11 inches x 17 inches in size.
- The Notice must be posted in conspicuous places where notices to employees are normally posted. If employee rules and policies are customarily posted on a company’s intranet or internet site, the notice must also be posted there in full or by a link to the Board’s website where the full text of the notice is located.
- Employers must take steps to ensure the notice is not altered, defaced, or covered with other materials.
- If 20 percent of an employer’s workforce is not proficient in English, and those persons speak the same foreign language, the employer must also post the notice physically (and electronically, if applicable) in that language. The Board has provided downloadable copies of the Notice in several languages at the above-referenced website, with more to come.
About the Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.