As we discussed with participants in our recent Labor and Employment Law Seminar, despite recent setbacks, the National Labor Relations Board continues to issue decisions that are concerning for employers. These decisions, which impact union and non-union employers alike, often take an expansive view of the protections afforded employees by the National Labor Relations Act. In a recent case involving a complaint filed by an (alleged) independent contractor working for a non-union employer, the Board found that the contractor’s electronic communications, directed at employees of a different employer, were protected by the Act because the communications constituted union organizing activity.

In New York Party Shuttle (pdf), the Board first considered whether the complaining party, a tour guide, was an employee or an independent contractor. The Tour Guide was regularly hired by Party Shuttle to provide guided tours of New York City. He also maintained his own tour company, and booked and provided tours through his own company. The Board held that Party Shuttle failed to establish that that the Tour Guide was an independent contractor. In making its decision, the Board applied a common law test that considers a multitude of factors and places the burden on the employer to establish independent contractor status. In this case, the Board found that Party Shuttle failed to establish that the tour guide as an independent contractor.

After determining that the Tour Guide was an employee, the Board turned to the next issue, the Tour Guide’s termination.


Continue Reading NLRB Finds Discussions With Employees of Another Employer Can Constitute Protected Activity

Last year, we reported on the first National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge decision examining an employee’s discharge for social media activity. Recently, the Board made Hispanics United its second decision examining an employee’s discharge for comments posted on Facebook. The Board held that the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act when it discharged five employees for criticizing another employee on Facebook. Although examining a new media, the Board stated that it was relying on established precedent to find that the activity in question was for “mutual aid or protection” within the meaning of Section 7 of the Act. Accordingly, the Board affirmed the ALJ’s decision ordering reinstatement of the discharged employees.
Continue Reading Board Affirms Decision Ordering Reinstatement of Employees Terminated for Facebook Comments

We previously reported that a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge issued an interesting decision involving an employee who was discharged for posts he made on his Facebook page. In that case, the ALJ found that the employee was not discharged in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, because even though some of the employee’s Facebook posts were protected, the employee’s termination was based on only non-protected posts. Recently, the Board upheld the ALJ’s decision, providing helpful guidance to employers on the limits of the NLRA’s protections.
Continue Reading Discharge Over Facebook Posting Lawful

As we approach the halfway point in the year, there are several noteworthy trends in state employment law that you should be aware of in order to proactively address potential high risk areas for your operation and stay compliant with the law. This post provides a summary of some of the hot-button issues affecting employers at the state level.

Employers must stay current on these ever-changing employment law trends, and we will continue to keep you up-to-date on these issues. In addition, we will be hosting our Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar on June 1, 2012, which will cover labor and employment law developments and trends. For more information about our seminar, including registration information, please visit the events page on our web site at www.mwn.com or follow the links in the post.
Continue Reading Current Trends in State Labor and Employment Law

Thanks to recent headlines about the increase in employers demanding social media passwords of employees and job applicants, employers have gotten a quick lesson on the increased the risks of this practice, especially if the employer neglects to have the proper policies and procedures in place.
Continue Reading Is there a way to safely use social media in the interview process?

There has been a lot of backlash against the practice of employers asking potential employees for their Facebook password. So much so that U.S. senators are calling on the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation to determine whether this practice is lawful. Facebook is also weighing in and threatening legal action against employers who engage in this practice.

In this blog post I provide a brief video update on the Facebook story and describe best practice alternatives to relying on social media in employee hiring.
Continue Reading How to screen job applicants without asking for the Facebook password

On September 6, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) announced that a Board Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) had issued the first decision involving employee social media use. In the decision, Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc., the ALJ ruled that the non-profit employer unlawfully discharged five employees after the employees posted comments on Facebook.

The ALJ first found that the small non-profit organization (which after the terminations at issue had only 25 employees) was covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), even though the organization operated only in the Buffalo, New York area. The ALJ went on to hold that the employees’ Facebook comments amounted to concerted protected activity under the NLRA, and as such, their comments were shielded from discipline. The ALJ concluded that the terminations were therefore unlawful, and ordered the employees reinstated with back pay.
Continue Reading First NLRB Administrative Law Judge Opinion On Employee Discipline For Social Media Use