On December 15, 2014, slightly less than three years after the NLRB’s first thwarted attempt, a final rule (the “2014 Final Rule”) reducing the time between the filing of an election petition and holding workplace union representation elections was published in the Federal Register. The 2014 Final Rule has an effective date of April 14, 2015. The Board described the 2014 Final Rule as “in essence a reissuance of the  rule,” which was invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on the ground that the Board lacked a statutory quorum when only two members voted to approve the rule.
As the calendar rolls over into a new year, many of us are busy making resolutions, and it seems that certain government enforcement agencies are no different. On January 14, 2015, the EEOC held its first meeting of the new year, resolving to renew its focus on the issue of workplace harassment. During the meeting, new EEOC Chair Jenny Yang announced the creation of a brand new task force dedicated solely to harassment issues, with the goal of reaching out to both employees and employers to promote rights awareness and best employment practices.
Even after a record number of wage and hour cases over the last decade, new issues keep arising in this area. One of the most interesting of those questions in recent years hit the United States Supreme Court last year, when the Court tackled the question of whether or not time employees spend in anti-theft security screening at the end of their shift is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
If you are like me, the changing of the calendar year is often a time to reflect on the past year and to set resolutions for the coming one. Not only is this a perfect opportunity to work on personal growth, but also to work on how you manage your relationships with your employees. Here are five particular areas of reflection and resolution for the New Year which can help in that area:
The West Virginia Division of Labor has withdrawn proposed emergency regulations that would have altered the wage and hour landscape for most West Virginia employers.
Just before noon on Tuesday, December 23, Acting DOL Commissioner John Junkins filed a letter with the Secretary of State withdrawing the proposed regulations “to address concerns raised by West Virginia employers about the impact of the rule.” Junkins wrote that the DOL will file an amended set of proposed regulations during the upcoming legislative session that will be submitted through the standard rulemaking process, rather than as emergency rules. “This will afford all stakeholders an adequate opportunity to communicate their concerns to the agency and resolve any confusion related to the scope and intent of the regulation,” Junkins wrote.
The proposed regulations, which the DOL had made public on November 19, conflicted with federal wage and hour rules in many important respects, as we detailed here. They were set to become effective on December 31.
Are you an employer that has an e-mail system which your employees can access? If so, then we have a holiday treat lump of coal for you.
About 10 days ago, the National Labor Relations Board issued a long-awaited opinion in Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 126. In Purple Communications, the Board concluded that employers who provide use of their email systems to employees must allow employees to use the email systems to engage in protected activity (including organizing activity) during non-working time. The decision overrules a prior decision of the Board, Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007), in which the Board held that employers could maintain and enforce bans on employees’ non-work-related use of employer email systems. According to the current Board in Purple Communications, the prior Board’s decision in Register Guard was “clearly incorrect.”
The West Virginia Division of Labor (DOL) has proposed emergency regulations that, if enforced in their present form, could force nearly all West Virginia employers to change, by December 31, 2014, a number of common wage and hour practices that comply with longstanding federal regulations.
Although the DOL’s emergency rules purport to adopt vast portions of federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, they simultaneously impose several new rules that contradict or otherwise differ from those same federal regulations, particularly as they relate to the determination of what constitutes compensable working time. If applied broadly, the new rules will require West Virginia employers to depart from FLSA standards in at least the following areas:
While employers of all types have been under increasing scrutiny by the United States Department of Labor for their overtime and other pay practices, the DOL has paid extra attention to employers in the energy industry. The piece below from Employment Law 360, announcing that the DOL’s focus on that sector has resulted in a great deal of wage and hour liability for oil and gas employers in Appalachia, is a great reminder that those employers need to be vigilant when it comes to both their classification determinations and wage payment compliance in general. To try and avoid the DOL’s crosshairs and other similar wage and hour headaches, consultation with competent counsel is advised.
Those who have followed this blog regularly know that a true treat is in store every year at this time – the Employment Essentials annual holiday poem, authored by our own Vanessa Goddard. Once again, our readers will not be disappointed with Vanessa’s fabulous work, so don’t hesitate to show the author some love in the comments below the prose. Happy Holidays from the entire Employment Essentials team. Click here to read this year’s poem.