Governor Walker friends Facebook users, bars employers from trolling employees’ accounts

by Saul C. Glazer

The question of whether employers can require applicants or current employees to divulge social media passwords has been hotly debated both from a legal and a moral standpoint. On April 8, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill protecting nonpublic social media accounts. This bill, which takes effect April 10, prohibits an employer, educational institution, or landlord from:

  1. Requesting an employee, applicant for employment, student, prospective student, tenant, or prospective tenant to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the personal Internet account of the employee, applicant, student, prospective student, tenant, or prospective tenant; and
  2. Discharging, expelling, suspending, disciplining, or otherwise penalizing or discriminating against any person for exercising the right to refuse such a request, opposing such a practice, filing a complaint or attempting to enforce that right, or testifying or assisting in any action or proceeding to enforce that right.

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Maryland Legislature passes bill to raise minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2018

by David M. Stevens

On the final day of its legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill to dramatically raise the state’s minimum wage. The bill, which was supported by Governor Martin O’Malley and is expected to be signed into law, calls for a staggered increase in the minimum wage over a period of four years, with the final increase due to set the minimum wage at $10.10 effective July 1, 2018.

Employers will first feel the effect of the minimum wage increase on January 1, 2015, and the minimum wage will increase a total of five times under the following schedule:

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Comment period nears end for NLRB ‘quickie election’ rule

March 28, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Lauren E.M. Russell

April 7 marks the end of the comment period for proposed rules from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would shorten the time needed to hold union representation elections.

This latest effort is the second time the NLRB has broached the subject of what foes call “quickie elections.” The first set of rules was proposed in June 2011 but was struck down by a federal court on technical grounds because of the way the rules were adopted.

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NLRB regional director orders union election for Northwestern football players

March 27, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that football players at Northwestern University are entitled to a union election because they’re essentially employees of the private university located in Evanston, Illinois.

Peter Sung Ohr, Region 13 director of the NLRB, issued an order on March 26 that a union representation election be conducted. He said Northwestern’s scholarship football players are entitled to vote on union representation because they’re “employees” under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

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NLRB sets public meeting on proposed changes to union election rules

February 26, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has set two days of meetings in April to hear opinions on proposed changes to rules governing union representation elections.

The NLRB will meet for April 10-11 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., to allow members of the public to present their views on what probusiness interests have labeled “quickie” election rules. Additional days of meetings may be scheduled for April 8 and/or 9, according to an announcement from the Board.

Those interested in speaking during the meeting must submit a request to the NLRB no later than March 10. If there are more requests to speak than there are available time slots, the available time will be allocated based on the content of the requests so that a variety of viewpoints will be represented, the Board says.

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New resources available on upcoming rules for federal contractors

February 24, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has posted new resources on its website to help federal contractors comply with new regulations pertaining to recruiting people with disabilities and veterans.

New regulations going into effect March 24 strengthen requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workers reject UAW representation

by Bart Sisk, David Jaqua, and Valeria Gomez

The votes are in, and the wait is over. In what can only be characterized as a major setback for organized labor, Volkswagen’s Chattanooga employees have voted to reject union representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW).  

Eighty-nine percent of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga employees participated in the election, which was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and took place on February 12-14. With 53 percent of workers voting against UAW representation, the union lost the election by a vote of 712-626. Through a press release issued by Volkswagen, Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga, announced, “Our employees have not made a decision that they are against a works council. Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant. Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America’s production needs and serve our employees’ interests.”

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NLRB resurrects proposal on speeding up union elections

February 05, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is reprising its 2011 effort to change the rules related to union representation—an effort that sparked opposition from employers then and will surely do so again.

A statement from the NLRB says that in substance, the proposed amendments are identical to the representation procedure changes first put forth in June 2011. The proposed amendments were struck down in 2012 when a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., cited the lack of an NLRB quorum.

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Maine Law Court issues groundbreaking discrimination opinion

by Peter D. Lowe and Connor Beatty

On Thursday, January 30, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court issued a groundbreaking and controversial decision. The Law Court ruled that a school district discriminated against one of its students when it told the student she couldn’t use the female restroom because she is transgendered. Although this decision directly affects places of public accommodation, it also may have major ramifications for employers. The decision calls into question whether it’s permissible to have separate-sex bathrooms at all under current law.

Background

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Supreme Court favors employer in donning, doffing case

January 29, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the employer in a closely watched donning and doffing case.

The high court ruled on January 27 that U.S. Steel Corp. did not have to pay a group of employees for time spent changing into and out of certain protective gear. In Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., workers sued to be paid for time spent donning and doffing the gear even though the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) says that time spent “changing clothes” at the beginning or end of each workday can be excluded from compensable time unless otherwise negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement.

The workers filing the lawsuit claimed the gear was personal protective equipment rather than clothing. But the Supreme Court ruled that the gear in question could largely be considered clothing, and therefore, they didn’t have to be paid for time spent putting it on and taking it off.

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