The theme for last year’s federal developments was reversal of Obama-era rules. The Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board were especially active in this respect.
After a relatively quiet Supreme Court term for employment law in 2018-19, the stage is set for the court to rule in 2020 on highly anticipated topics. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines from last year and a look at what employers can expect in 2020.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Jan. 25, 2019, overturned its 2014 ruling in FedEx Home Delivery and returned to its long-standing independent-contractor standard. In affirming its reliance on the traditional common-law employment classification test, the board clarified how entrepreneurial opportunity factors into its determination of independent-contractor status.
2018 was a relatively quiet year in federal employment law developments, but the stage is set for a much more active 2019. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines and a look at what employers can expect in 2019.
For Missouri and Illinois employers, a review of 2018 state updates and a look forward at 2019 can be found here.
A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge in February struck down two provisions in a severance agreement relating to confidentiality and participation in third-party claims. In Baylor University Medical Center, the administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that these provisions violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) because they had the effect of restricting protected conduct and were not justified by any countervailing concerns. The ALJ relied on the board’s recent Boeing Company decision that outlined a new framework for reviewing employer policies.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Dec. 14, 2017, overturned significant prior precedent related to its position governing workplace policies and handbooks and its joint employer standard. These decisions are significant because they reversed two previous standards that had caused numerous headaches for employers.
In what is considered an “unprecedented action,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) has switched sides to argue on behalf of employers, and against the position of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in the U.S. Supreme Court battle over employment agreements mandating arbitration. The DOJ said Friday that it no longer supports workers in the case NLRB v. Murphy Oil, which addresses whether an employment contract that requires the employee to waive his or her right to bring a class-action lawsuit against the employer violates the National Labor Relations Act.
2016 was a busy year for employment law developments on a national level, and 2017 promises to follow suit. To help employers navigate the changes, here is a summary of major developments that may affect your business this year.
On May 26, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in Lewis v. Epic Systems, agreeing with the National Labor Relations Board’s position that mandatory arbitration agreements that prohibit employees from bringing class or collective claims violate the National Labor Relations Act. It was the first appellate court decision to accept the board’s stance, breaking with the Fifth Circuit and teeing up the final resolution of the validity of class waivers for the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the aftermath of a significant change in the joint employer standard this year, several states are attempting to address how franchisors are affected.
In August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. d/b/a BFI Newby Recyclery, 362 NLRB No. 186 (Aug. 27, 2015), drastically expanding the standard for determining whether an entity was a joint employer. (See our blog post about it here). In doing so, the NLRB veered away from precedent that required a showing that a company exerted actual control over the employees of another company in order for the first company to be considered a joint employer.
The National Labor Relations Board has long held employers cannot stifle employee communications about the conditions of their employment in general handbook confidentiality clauses, but on Aug. 27, the NLRB took that prohibition one step further.
In a 2-1 decision, the board ruled The Boeing Co.’s confidentiality restriction for employees under HR investigations violated the National Labor Relations Act. (Boeing Co., 2015 BL 278958, 362 N.L.R.B. No. 195, 8/27/15.)