The Supreme Court of the United States continued its hot streak in the arbitration and class action waiver arena with two recent decisions. These decisions are important for employers because they may offer employers a way control expenses related to dispute resolution with employees. Because those expenses can be so high, many employers are considering implementing employment arbitration agreements, consistent with the direction provided by the Court.
Continue Reading Be Clear: Include Class Arbitration Waivers in Arbitration Clauses

A client shared an interesting article that appeared recently in BusinessWeek which highlights a growing emphasis among H.R. professionals and job interviewers in finding job candidates that are a good “cultural fit” for an organization, even when that means a less qualified candidate is ultimately selected for a particular job. The article focuses on a comprehensive study conducted by Northwestern University professor, Lauren Rivera, who found that many employers are making hiring decisions “in a manner more closely resembling the choice of friends or romantic partners.” According to the study, while qualifications and accolades will usually help a candidate get their foot in the door, more and more people are being asked questions in interviews about their hobbies, pop culture interests, and world views in an effort to determine whether a prospective employee will be compatible with current employees.
Continue Reading Many Companies Placing Emphasis on Cultural Fit Over Qualifications When Hiring New Employees

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or the “Agency”) recently released a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016. The Agency has requested public comment on the Plan, which describes its strategy for targeted enforcement and the integration of administrative and legal enforcement activities. These efforts that are meant to help the Agency meet its responsibilities in the face of increasing demand and limited resources. Most notably for employers, the EEOC’s Plan outlines the nationwide priorities for its enforcement efforts in private, state and local government, and federal sectors.
Continue Reading EEOC Releases Strategic Enforcement Plan

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

Recently, members of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC’s Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Group issued an Alert containing two articles that will certainly be of interest to many employers.
The first article, by Barbara A. Darkes, summarizes Pennsylvania’s implementation of the new medical certification requirements for individuals holding Commercial Drivers Licenses.

The second article, by James J. Franklin, summarizes a new law that bans texting while driving on all Pennsylvania roadways effective March 9, 2012. Employers should review these developments carefully and revise their policies as necessary.
Continue Reading Ban on Texting While Driving in Pennsylvania & New CDL Requirements

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

Recently, the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (Board) released a report, basically a score card, detailing the Board’s actions on 14 cases involving social media. Employee social media use has been a hot topic for the Board, for both union and non-union employers, and for us. The report is summarized on our blog.
Continue Reading National Labor Relations Board Issues Social Media Report

We previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) has been very active in the area of employee social media use.  Recently, the Board’s Office of General Counsel issued three (3) Advice Memorandums directing the dismissal of charges, which challenged discipline issued to employees based on the employees’ social media activity. This latest action, or inaction, by the Board offers us an opportunity to provide another update on social media and employee discipline. 

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees who engage in concerted activity from discipline. Board precedent defines concerted activity as (1) group action or action on behalf of other employees; (2) activity seeking to initiate or prepare for group activity, or (3) bringing a group complaint to the attention of management.  The recent announcements by the Board’s Office of General Counsel shed light on the limits of the protections afforded to employees by the NLRA.


Continue Reading Another Update on Social Media and Employee Discipline

A few months back, we reported that the National Labor Relations Board (Board) had issued a complaint against a company for disciplining an employee because she posted insulting remarks about her supervisor on her Facebook page. We subsequently reported that the complaint was settled. Since that time, the Board has remained very active in the the social media area, and has demonstrated an apparent desire to actively police that space.  The Board has issued several complaints, which send a strong message that the Board is interested in protecting the social media space for employees.

Before we move forward to discuss the Board’s activity, lets first take a step back and remember that the rules of the game have not changed too much. The only difference is, the game is being played in a new arena. Since the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act (Act), employees have had the right to engage in concerted activity and to discuss the terms and conditions of employment without retribution from their employers. The right to discuss the terms and conditions of employment, includes the right to discuss wages, benefits, working hours and working conditions, and under the Board’s precedent, also includes the right to complain about supervisors and managers in some cases. The Act prohibits covered employers from disciplining employees who exercise these rights.

While these employee rights have not changed, they are now being exercised in a new forum. Employees, and unions, have flocked to social media. Unions are using social media to help organizing campaigns, and employees are using social media for just about everything. As a result, conversations that used to occur in the break room and bar room now take place on Facebook or via Twitter. In the past, employers were probably not even aware that employees were discussing the terms and conditions of employment, but now these conversations on posted on the Internet, and in some cases, have a very wide audience.

When these discussions are offensive or disparaging, employers often want to take action. Understandably, employers may wish to discipline employees whose comments demonstrate a lack of professionalism or violate employer policies. However, the Board has been quick to step in and issue a complaint if, in the opinion of the Board, the employer’s action has violated the Act.

The Board has issued complaints involving Facebook and Twitter, complaints involving negative comments about individual supervisors and the employer as a whole, and complaints against both union and non-union employers. As the Board’s first widely publicized social media complaint demonstrates, it does not matter what the forum is, employers cannot discipline an employee for discussing the terms and conditions of employment, and social media policies cannot prohibit employees from exercising their rights under the Act. The Board seems intent on protecting employee use of social media. Importantly, however, the Board’s authority ends at the outer limits of the Act. Recently, the Board dismissed a complaint involving an employee termination because the employee’s inappropriate tweets did not involve the terms and conditions of employment and therefore, were not "protected activity" under the Act.

The Board’s activity highlights some key points. 


Continue Reading An Update on Social Media and Employee Discipline