Are You Breaking The Rules? NLRB General Counsel Issues Extensive Report On Employer Rules and Handbooks

On March 18, 2015, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a report (General Counsel Memorandum GC 15-04) summarizing recent NLRB enforcement action regarding many common employment policies. The report is relevant to nearly all private employers, regardless of whether they have union represented employees.  It is troubling because it finds that many seemingly innocuous, sensible employer handbook provisions and policies are unlawful because they could potentially be interpreted to chill employees’ rights to engage in concerted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

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Can Anyone Stop Them? NLRB’s New “Quickie” Union Election Rules Set To Take Effect April 14.

On December 12, 2014 the NLRB adopted new union election rules, claiming that they will “modernize and streamline the process for resolving representation disputes.”  These rules will become effective April 14th of this year.

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And the Oscar Goes to . . . Equal Pay?  Arquette’s Oscar Speech Sparks Comparable Worth Bill in California

Just in time for Women’s History Month, California State Senator and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah-Beth Jackson, introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which seeks to narrow the gender pay gap in California.  Citing best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech where she called for, “wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women,” Senator Jackson hopes to turn that rallying cry into concrete legislation in California.

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“Reporting for Duty”: Employers May Face Extended Obligations to Reemploy Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder under USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301–4335, not only prohibits discrimination against employees and potential employees based on their military service, it also imposes certain obligations on employers with respect to employees returning to work after a period of service in the U.S. military.

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IRS Announces That It Will No Longer Refund FICA Taxes on Severance Payments

The IRS recently announced that severance payments are taxable wages under FICA, and thus employers who seek tax refunds on those payments will be denied.  The IRS’s position reflects the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., issued in March of last year.

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Prognosis Negative: You’re Not Immune to Company Policy Under California Leave Law

In Richey v. Autonation, Inc., issued January 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court reinstated an arbitration award against the plaintiff and confirmed that employers retain the right to terminate employees who violate company policy even while they are on a leave of absence under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

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Chicken Soup for CA Employers: How to Stay Healthy When Implementing Your Sick Leave Plan

The new California paid sick leave law is now “in effect” (as we reported here and here) and you are ramping up your HR and payroll team to get ready for July 1 when employees can start accruing sick leave under the law.  But now that you’re digging into the details, you’re realizing that this isn’t as easy as you thought.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There are a few subtleties to the sick leave law that are catching more than a few employers off guard.  But fear not, here are some tips to help you implement your sick leave plan:

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Employees Snooze, Employers Lose: California Supreme Court Delivers Wake Up Call to Employers of On-Call Security Workers

In Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., issued on January 8, 2015, the California Supreme Court ruled that security guards are entitled to compensation for all on-call hours spent at their assigned worksites, even when they are engaged in certain personal activities or sleep.

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Employers Finally Get a Break—Court Reverses $90 Million Verdict and Holds That Employers Are Not Required to Relieve Employees of All Duty During Rest Periods

On December 31, 2014, the Court of Appeal for the Second District of California held in an unpublished opinion that employers are not required to relieve employees of all duty during rest periods mandated by California state law.  In so holding, the court in Augustus v. ABM Sec. Servs., Inc., No. B243788, 2014 WL 7463154 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2014), reversed the trial court’s award of approximately $90 million dollars in statutory damages, interest, penalties, and attorneys’ fees to the employees.

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Medical Marijuana Cards: A New Scarlet Letter? First-of-its-Kind Lawsuit in Rhode Island Claims that Employer Discriminated on Basis of Medical Marijuana Cardholder Status

A Rhode Island graduate student has filed a lawsuit against a textile company, alleging that it discriminated against her because she used medical marijuana.  The complaint, filed by the local ACLU chapter on behalf of University of Rhode Island student Christine Callaghan, alleges that Darlington Fabrics Corporation rescinded a paid internship offer because Callaghan was a registered medical marijuana cardholder.  According to the complaint, it appeared that Callaghan was going to be given the internship until, during a meeting with a Darlington HR representative, Callaghan disclosed that she suffered from migraines and used medical marijuana to treat her condition—but that she would not bring marijuana with her onto the premises or show up for work after having taken marijuana.  A few days after the meeting, the representative contacted Callaghan and told her that Darlington would not be offering her the internship because of her status as a medical marijuana patient.  The suit is believed to be the first to invoke the anti-discrimination provisions of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law.  Under the law, schools, employers, and landlords may not “refuse to enroll, employ, or lease to, or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.” G.L. § 21-28.6-4(c).

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