Babysitters at the Gate: The Supreme Court’s Radical Expansion of SOX’s Whistleblower Protections

Yesterday, in Lawson v. FMR LLC, a divided U.S. Supreme Court decided its first case addressing the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).  The question before the Court: do those protections extend only to the employees of public companies, or do they also reach the employees of contractors and subcontractors of public companies?  You can see our prior posts on the case here (June 19, 2012), here (October 8, 2013), here (January 7, 2014), and here (January 28, 2014). Read More

“Ambush Election Rules” or Big Win for Labor Unions? Either Way, Changes May Be in Store for the Union Organizing Process

With a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) issued earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial proposed regulations on union elections are once again making headlines. A near reincarnation of a 2011 proposal that was ultimately struck down, the proposed regulations look to “streamline” the union election process. The changes, however, make some substantive revisions that may negatively impact employers. Read More

If You Fire Me Without Cause, Can I Ignore My Non-Compete And Steal Your Clients?

In the decades since Post v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, 48 N.Y.2d 84 (1979), in which the New York Court of Appeals concluded it would be unreasonable to enforce a non-competition agreement requiring forfeiture of compensation against an employee terminated without cause, New York courts have struggled with articulating a clear rule as to whether an employee’s post-employment restrictive covenants are enforceable upon a termination without cause and, if so, when. Read More

Employers Beware: You May be Liable for Your Employees’ Tortious Off-Duty Conduct during Their Commutes

In Moradi v. Marsh USA, Inc., the California Court of Appeal concluded that employees who are required to use their personal vehicles to travel to and from the office and make other work-related trips during the day are acting within in the scope of their employment when they are commuting to and from work. Read More

The Affordable Care Act – Consider Yourself on Notice

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act must provide a “Notice of Coverage Options” to each employee. The purpose of this Notice is to inform employees that they may obtain health insurance through their states’ Health Insurance Marketplace. For current employees, the Notice must be distributed before October 1, 2013.  For new employees, the Notice must be given within 14 days after work begins.  Read More

Three More States Hop on the Social Media Legislation Bandwagon

So far in 2013, three states (Arkansas, New Mexico and Utah) have passed new social media legislation restricting employer access to employees and job applicants’ personal social media accounts. We previously posted about social media legislation in California and other states here and hereRead More

Supreme Court Reaffirms Enforceability of Arbitration Agreement in Noncompetition Dispute

In a succinct opinion issued on November 26, 2012, the Supreme Court delivered a stern warning to state courts that fail to enforce arbitration clauses accompanying noncompetition agreements. In Nitro-Lift Technologies, L.L.C. v. Howard, 568 U.S. ____ (2012), the employment contracts between two energy-sector employees and their employer contained a two-year noncompetition provision and a mandatory arbitration clause. After the employees joined a competitor, the employer commenced an arbitration proceeding, prompting the employees to bring suit in Oklahoma state court seeking an injunction preventing enforcement of the noncompetition agreements. Despite the mandatory arbitration clauses, Oklahoma’s highest court declared the noncompetition agreements unenforceable under a state law prohibiting restraints on an employee’s ability to work in the same industry. Read More

Duty to Disclose for Employers Claiming “Competitive Disadvantage” in Labor Negotiations

In a divided opinion published on December 4th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit provided a reminder that employers should always be prepared to substantiate representations made during labor negotiations and clarified the scope of disclosure obligations for employers relying on competitive pressures as a basis for seeking concessions. In KLB Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 11-1280 (D.C. Cir. 2012), the employer justified proposed wage concessions by citing, among other things, heightened competition from foreign manufacturers. Union representatives requested an array of information to test the employer’s claim, but the employer largely refused.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the National Labor Relations Board that the employer’s refusal constituted an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act, which requires employers to furnish relevant information that unions need to perform their role as bargaining representatives. The court found that once an employer makes specific claims of “competitive disadvantage” in labor negotiations, bargaining representatives are entitled to request specific information tailored to verify those claims.  In so doing, the court rejected the suggestion—made by the employer and endorsed by the dissent—that “competitive disadvantage” claims are exempt from these liberal disclosure obligations.

Have questions? With Orrick’s expertise in traditional labor law, we can help you in navigating union-management relationships and in responding to unfair labor practice charges.