March 1, 2012
Hall Render's Employment Law Briefing - March/April 2012
Hall Render's latest issue of the Employment Law Briefing summarizes these and other interesting developments:
Now There Are Twenty-Three
Speaking of developments, Indiana became the 23rd state to pass a Right to Work law. That means that any agreement that requires employees to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment is unlawful and void. This applies to any agreement made on or after March 14, 2012. Current agreements will be okay until they expire. This Right to Work law caps off a long-running battle that last year resulted in the Indiana House Democrat caucus leaving the state for five weeks, thereby preventing a quorum. This year, the law passed after several delays. The Right to Work law is now the subject of a legal challenge filed in federal court as being an unconstitutional interference with the right to contract. Unions have vowed to take the issue to the voters in the Fall election. Stay tuned as the battle over Right to Work continues.
Social Media and Employee Rights - A Challenge to Employers
Employees of private non-governmental employers have the right under the NLRA to engage in concerted activity for their mutual aid and protection - with or without a union. With the advent of social media and the wide range of expressions of opinions by employees about work, their employers, their bosses and sometimes their co-workers, employers are caught in a cross fire trying to protect their businesses, maintain a level of decorum and respect among the workforce and broad employee rights to discuss wages, hours and working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), the federal agency that enforces employee rights in this area, has been very aggressive in challenging any private employer social media policy that could be interpreted to interfere with an employee's right to engage in non-threatening discussions about work and their employers. The decisions and even the guidance offered by the NLRB are seemingly all over the board. It's a good idea to review existing policies in light of these evolving trends and to think through the consequences before taking any adverse action because of an employee's use of social media that is critical of management.
Save the Date - July 17, 2012 - The Employment Relationship from Beginning to End
We will again be offering our popular full-day seminar on July 17 that will cover all the key aspects of the employment relationship that every Human Resources professional needs to know. This year, we've added special sections on Social Media, Immigration and I-9 Compliance and Employee Benefits and Severance Plans, in addition to our traditional coverage of Employment at Will, FMLA, ADA, Workplace Harassment and Discipline and Discharge. We'll be sending more information and registration forms in the future. This seminar sells out each year, so don't miss this opportunity to understand The Employment Relationship from Beginning to End.
Announcing our Employment Law Blog - HR Insights for Health Care
We have now launched a blog that will keep you up to date with short and concise summaries of recent developments in the Human Resources field. Check out our HR Insights for Health Care at http://www.hallrender.com/insights. We will also continue to keep you updated on a regular basis as developments occur. Let us know if there is anything in particular that you'd like for us to cover.
What Did He Say?
ADEA decision centers on employee's alleged repeated verbal abuse
When a 65-year-old employee resigned after alleged repeated age-related abuse, he filed suit, claiming a hostile work environment. However, this type of claim isn't addressed in the ADEA, and the Fifth Circuit had never before held that Title VII could be used to address a claim of hostile work environment based on age. Nevertheless, the court held that a "plaintiff's hostile work environment claim based on age discrimination under the ADEA may be advanced in this court." This article explains the court's reasoning, while a sidebar shows why the court also concluded that the plaintiff had valid grounds for his "constructive discharge" claim.
Dediol v. Best Chevrolet, Inc., (5th Cir.)
Choose Words Carefully
College administrator's comment spurs ADA lawsuit
A mentally disabled worker for a community college had been repeatedly denied promotion. He filed a charge with the EEOC. When he later asked a school HR official what he should be doing differently, he essentially was told he should not be suing his employer. This article explains why that comment endangered the college's case when the worker later sued under the ADA.
Dickerson v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 522, (7th Cir.)
The Inherent Risks of a Lack of Accountability
An associate surgeon made several allegations that the residency director's behavior toward her and other women was consistently inappropriate and demeaning. When her medical credentials were up for review by the hospital's credentials committee, the residency director presented her in an unfavorable light, and the committee ordered counseling for her. Upon review, the chief medical officer didn't tell the committee about the plaintiff's allegations against the residency director, and the committee reaffirmed. The plaintiff successfully sued. This article explains that even high-ranking professionals must follow the law.
Tuli v. Brigham & Women’s Hospital, (1st Cir.)
USERRA Case Addresses Commission-based Employees
A successful financial advisor went on leave when he was activated for military duty, but, upon his return, he was offered accounts that would generate virtually no commissions. He successfully sued under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"). This article explains some of the requirements of that act.
Serricchio v. Wachovia Securities, (2nd Cir.)
Should you have questions, please contact your regular Hall Render attorney or a member of our Employment and Labor Section: