Posts Tagged ‘Employment and Labor Law Update’

3 Things Employers Need to Know About the NLRA

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

NLRAHow familiar are you with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)? Do you have enough knowledge of the act to guarantee that your organization won’t make costly mistakes regarding your employees?  

According to nlrb.gov, the NLRA was enacted by congress in 1935 “…to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices…” Keeping up with the decisions based on interpretations of the act can be challenging. However, all employers should be familiar with the NLRA and know how related rulings affect their organization.

Here are three things all employers should know about the NLRA:

Not Just for Unions

Think the NLRA won’t affect you because there are no unions at your organization? Wrong! The NLRA is applicable to most private and non-profit employers whether they have a union presence or not (there are some exceptions). Because the NLRA affects most companies, it’s important to be aware of the most recent rulings dealing with the act.

The NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces the NLRA. Five members, appointed by presidents, make up the board. Their jobs are to review the unfair labor practices they receive from unions or employers, and make decisions or rulings on the cases they investigate. The board analyzes the NLRA to determine its decisions. Though the group can’t change the elements in the NLRA, it can change how the law is interpreted and used.

Decisions from the Board are Law

Rulings made by the board have the effect of law, and board decisions can change often. Past rulings do not set precedents as they do in actual courts of law, so reverse rulings of decisions made by previous boards are not uncommon. For employers, this means that employment and labor law constantly changes.

Make sure your organization stays informed to avoid actions that may violate federal or state laws. Brian Hayes, former NLRB member and current Ogletree Deakins attorney, will present at this year’s Employment and Labor Law Update conference. During his sessions, he will share his views and give advice on the board’s recent rulings.

Please visit www.capital.org/lawupdate to review the full agenda of the conference, descriptions about the presentations and to register. Feel free to call 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 with any questions.

Photo Source: Kheel Center, Cornell University

Are You Aware of the Regulatory and Legal Changes Affecting N.C. Employers in 2013?

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

2013ELLU-Flash 2012 brought a number of federal and state employment law changes that will affect North Carolina employers this year. Agencies, such as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), are giving employers more challenges by increasing their scrutiny on compliance. North Carolina also has restructured its unemployment insurance system to deal with the state’s federal debt, as well as make the NC Division of Employment Security (DES) more efficient.

Please join us for the 2013 Employment and Labor Law Update at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center on May 22 and May 23. The experienced attorneys of Ogletree Deakins will update you on the latest developments and inform you on what they mean to N.C. employers and how they will specifically affect your organization.

Ogletree Deakins’ knowledgeable attorneys will cover several topics pertinent to employers, including:

 

NLRB

Workplace Violence Prevention

Employee Handbooks

N.C. Legislature

ICE

E-Verify

Healthcare Reform

ADAAA

Challenges with New Technology

Compensation Systems

USDOL

FLSA

Unemployment Insurance Reform

Affordable Care Act

EEOC

Whistleblower Claims

 

Brian Hayes, former NLRB member and voice of management on the board for more than two years, will present at this year’s conference. Brian’s term on the NLRB Board may have ended in December 2012, but he’ll share his view on the board’s recent rulings and help you prepare for the new challenges facing employers. Conference favorite Dennis Davis also will share with attendees a special presentation on preventing workplace violence.

If you want to understand how the latest developments in state and federal employment laws and regulations affect your organization, attend this conference. In addition to all the compliance information you’ll receive, you’ll have a number of opportunities to network with leading employment law attorneys and more than 350 HR executives and company leaders.

Please visit www.capital.org/lawupdate to review the event’s full agenda, descriptions about the presentations and to register. Feel free to call 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 with any questions.

6 Things to Know about the NLRB’s Notification of Employee Rights from the 2012 Employment and Labor Law Update

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

On May 2 and May 3 CAI hosted its annual Employment and Labor Law Update at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. More than 390 HR professionals and company executives participated in the two-day event. Experienced lawyers from Ogletree Deakins updated the audience on the most recent developments in state and federal employment law and how they affect North Carolina employers. Topics discussed at the conference included the ADAAA, conducting investigations, healthcare reform, E-Verify and more.

Participants were concerned and surprised by some of the recent changes from the NLRB, which attorney John Burgin shared. Burgin explained that the recess board under President Obama’s administration currently has a 3-2 pro-union majority, and the board’s effects are shaping how employers and employees can interact with each other. Here are six things you need to know about the NLRB and its Notification of Employee Rights:

1.       Notification of Employee Rights              

  1. Originally effective November 14, 2011 but implementation was delayed indefinitely by U.S. Court of Appeals on April 17, 2012
  2. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires most private employers to post employees’ rights
  3. All employers under jurisdiction of the NLRB are included, but the act excludes government, agricultural, railroad and airline employers
  4. Ruling applies to employers of unionized and non-unionized workforces

2.       Foreign Language Notice

  1. Where 20 percent or more of a workforce is not proficient in English, employers must post the Notification of Employee Rights in the language employees speak
  2. If workforce includes two or more groups constituting of 20 percent, employers must physically post information in each language or post notice in the language spoken by the largest group and distribute the notice to each employee in appropriate language

3.       Electronic Posting of Notice

  1. If an employer “customarily communicates” with employees about personnel rules or polices electronically, the employer is required to post the Notification of Employee Rights as prominently as other electronic notices to employees
  2. The information on the electronic version must be the exact copy of the NLRB’s poster or a link to the NLRB website that contains a copy of the poster must be present

4.       Under the NLRA, it is illegal for an employer to:

  1. Prohibit an employee from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time hours or from distributing union literature during non-work time hours, in non-work areas
  2. Prohibit an employee from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts and pins in the workplace except under special circumstance
  3. Question an employee about his or her union support or activities

5.       Responses to Posting Notification

  1. Employers still have the same rights under Section 8(c) to share their position and opinions in non-coercive manners
  2. Employers may inform employees about their rights to refuse to support a union—written or verbal

6.       Notification Options

  1. If it is eventually approved, consider the following options when posting the Notification of Employee Rights:

a.      Post the new notice

b.      Post the new notice and your own side notice

c.      Post the new notice and train supervisors on expectations and compliance

d.      Post the new notice and conduct meetings with employees to  build positive employer-         employee relationships

If you have additional questions regarding the NRLB and posting of the Notification of Employee Rights, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: avrene

Informative, Engaging and Entertaining: CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Three hundred and seventy-two executives and HR professionals traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 17 and May 18 to attend CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference. CAI’s annual two-day event is designed to inform employers on the challenging and ever-changing legislative and regulatory environment companies are up against.

During the conference, lawyers from Ogletree Deakins and CAI staff members updated conference attendees on pertinent information ranging from a variety of topics, including health reform, NLRB changes and tips for creating effective company documents.

First-time conference goers, like Joan Inman, human resources director of SouthData, explored the 2011 conference to get professional expertise and vital information related to employers’ issues.

“I’m just seeking knowledge, and I want well-informed people telling me what I need to know,” Joan said on why she attended.

Each year CAI works with Ogletree Deakins to develop educational and engaging program sessions for the attendees. Those participating at the conference also receive notebooks packed with PowerPoint slides, white papers and several case studies that all further explain recent legal changes. Not only are the legal and regulatory updates a huge draw for conference attendees, but HR professionals like Yolanda Dejesus, director of human resources for the Office of Strategy and HR at AICPA, said the conference is “well worth the value” because of the information provided and the opportunity to network with others, including attorneys and company leaders from the Triangle, Triad and Eastern North Carolina.

“[CAI] always has great training and conferences. I always learn something new,” said Erika Koteff, HR manager at District Distributors when asked about the updates supplied at the conference.

Participants also have the opportunity to receive legal counsel on their own employment issues during the conference’s panel discussion. Featuring lawyers and HR specialists, the panel gives expert solutions to questions raised by audience members. Popular topics addressed during this year’s session included questions about FMLA guidelines and staying compliant with government instructions regarding I-9s.

Entertaining the audience members was a must at this year’s conference as well, and during the lively Wild and Wacky Cases session, guests learned about unbelievable cases that occurred in 2010. This year, the popular session highlighted information on crazy bathroom break policies, jaw-dropping workplace fraternizing and outlandish professional dress. Another fun and highly interactive part of the conference was the trivia game. Once the final informative session ended, Matt Keen of Ogletree Deakins asked participants to test their knowledge on the information presented at the conference by using electronic devices to answer the game’s yes or no questions.

The 2011 conference evaluations revealed that attendees found this year’s topics relevant and applicable to the many issues they are facing in their HR departments. CAI members, such as the Director of HR at Haven House Jennifer Boyler, return to the conference every year to stay up to date on news affecting employers.

“It’s a can’t-be-missed conference,” she said when describing the valuable event.

Please see the Employment and Labor Law Update web page at http://www.capital.org/lawupdate for additional information on the topics covered.  The 2012 conference will take place on May 2 and May 3 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

Emergency Action Plans: Three Reasons Why Your Company Should Have One

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

An Emergency Action Plan, or EAP, is required by OSHA standards to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. According to OSHA guidelines, an EAP should include at minimum the following:

  • Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency;
  • Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
  • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties; and
  • The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan.

Companies with 10 or fewer employees do not have to write their plan out. However, in all situations, it is recommended that drills occur so that employees know where to go and what to do during a calamity.

There are three key reasons your company needs to set up an EAP beside the OSHA requirements:

1)     It enhances your company’s ability to recover from financial losses, damages to equipment or products or business interruption. For example, if all of your employees know how to operate a fire extinguisher properly, they can stop a flame from becoming an inferno that can burn up part or all of your building.

2)     It bonds management and employees by having them share responsibilities in the plan. Assigning duties such as who will be in charge of leading the safe evacuation empowers employees, and meeting to discuss modifications in the EAP as needed makes them stakeholders in the company’s activities.

3)     It establishes favorable relationships with law enforcement leaders and firefighters who know you have an EAP and have communicated well the details of it with your employees. Think of the number of times you have seen a disaster happen at a business and news coverage has included a sound bite of an official saying it was obvious the company was not prepared for what occurred. That scenario can be prevented with you being proactive in setting up your EAP.

For additional information on emergency action plans and how they can benefit you and your company, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Chris Violet

Five Things Employers Need to Know about Immigration Law and I-9’s

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Bernhard Mueller, immigration attorney with the Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, presented his “Immigration Law and I-9 Update” to CAI Members at our free, August, members-only Ask the Expert programs.

Here are some of the key points Mueller made during these sessions:

1. Employers who have constructive knowledge that an employee is not authorized to work, but nonetheless continue to allow the employee to work, are subject to fines. Examples of constructive knowledge are:

a. failure to complete an I-9 form for an employee

b. failure of the employer to ensure that Section 1 is properly completed and signed

c. failure of the employer to sign the I-9

d. failure to re-verify employment authorization after it expires

e. inconsistencies, such as an employee who checked the Permanent Resident box in Section 1 but subsequently asks the employer to sponsor him/her

2. Although employers are not required to do I-9’s for contractors, they have a duty to ensure to the best of their ability that contractors are legally authorized to work. The recommended practice is to include the following in the contracting agreement:

a. a statement that your company is committed to compliance with all federal and state employment laws, including hiring only employees authorized to work in the United States, and that you expect the contractor to comply as well

b. that you reserve the right to inspect the I-9’s of contracted workers that are supplied to you at any time

c. an indemnification clause

3. Employers who hire out-of-state employees (sales employees, construction, etc.) where there is no company representative to handle the I-9 process may contract with someone to complete I-9’s on their behalf, such as a notary public. (Note: Texas does not allow notaries to perform this service.) The employer should ensure that the contractor is knowledgeable of the legal requirements and appropriate procedures for I-9 completion since the employer is ultimately responsible.

4. The I-9 form cannot be completed until a job offer is made and accepted. Because the I-9 requires date of birth and identifies whether the person is a U.S. citizen or alien, it could be a source of potential discrimination charges if an applicant were required to complete it pre-offer and then not hired.

5. It is fraud if someone other than the employee fills in Section 1 but does not provide the required information and a signature in the Preparer and/or Translator Certification box, or if HR or a company representative fills in missing information in Section 1 for the employee.

If you have questions about immigration law and I-9s, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: O. Cosma

Revisions to the Family and Medical Leave Act: Everything You Need to Know

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

As the definition of family in America has changed over the years, so have the U.S. Department of Labor’s terms about who qualifies for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The department’s revision on June 22, 2010 to its definition of sons and daughters has extended coverage for certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year to include caretakers of a newborn, newly adopted or ill or injured child.

By caretakers, the revision means more than just parents with biological or legal connections to a child are eligible under the FMLA. Now aunts, uncles, step parents, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LBGT) parents and any others entrusted with care of a child are covered. In essence, any employee who assumes the responsibility of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave.

While this may appear to be a huge change to employers, your company may not be affected by it. Remember the following fact about the FMLA: Employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months for their employer, and they work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the workplace.

If your company meets these qualifications, it would be a wise step to update all employees about this expanded benefit, so that your staff realizes what is happening and why more workers may now be eligible to take time off. A quick review about the FMLA can prevent confusion for you and your employees on this issue and its impact on your office. Some businesses may not have to go to such measures if they already have extended unpaid leave to non-married and/or nontraditional parents.

Keep in mind as well that this benefit most likely will not result in major upheavals or workload problems for a majority of companies. In today’s economy, most employees are reluctant to take up to three months unpaid leave unless absolutely necessary for their child’s welfare.

There have been other updates to FMLA since it took effect in 1993. CAI will keep you informed of future ones as they occur.

For more details on the FMLA, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photos Source: storyvillegirl

Five Important Points from CAI’s 2010 Employment and Labor Law Update

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

More than 350 company executives and HR professionals gathered at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 12 and 13 for CAI’s 2010 Employment and Labor Law Update.  The record-setting crowd heard about the latest changes in federal and state employment laws and what North Carolina employers need to be doing now to address these changes.

The two days were packed full with illuminating information, and there were many participants’ questions answered.  To write about everything that was covered would take two weeks’ worth of daily blog entries.  In lieu of that huge undertaking, here are five important points that were made:

1. A study released in September 2009 regarding wage-and-hour violations is driving the U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts to greatly increase its investigations into such non-compliance.  The study is based on interviews with more than 4,000 “workers in low-wage industries” in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.  The results were:

  • 76% of those surveyed worked overtime the previous week but were not paid time-and-a-half
  • 26% were being paid less than minimum wage
  • 69% of workers entitled to a break did not receive the required break time

2. The U.S. Department of Labor is also making a large investment in pursuing the misclassification by employers of independent contractors.  Three steps employers need to take to address this issue in their organization are: conduct a thorough, companywide risk analysis of your independent contractor population; design and implement a comprehensive compliance program; and establish an internal team to implement and monitor the compliance program.

3. Every organization needs to have a social media policy.  The first question to ask is whether to create a positive/empowering policy or a negative/deterring policy?  In other words, do you empower your employees to become ambassadors for your organization, or do you prohibit them from referring to it?

4. One of the most important things an employer can do to avoid violations under the new ADA Amendments Act is to train their supervisors how to respond to an employee’s request for accommodation.

5. Three key tips for avoiding I-9 liability: implement a comprehensive written policy; conduct I-9 audits at least annually; and implement a policy for resolving no-match notices.

Did you attend the 2010 Employment and Labor Law Update?  What important takeaways did you bring back to the office?

Photo Source: srqpix

Employment and Labor Law Update Helps Employers Be Informed and Protected

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The past year has been marked by major changes in employment law and intense regulatory enforcement efforts, including:

Government agencies will be stepping up their enforcement activities even more in 2010.  Consider:

  • U.S. Department of Labor budget includes $25 million and the addition of 100 enforcement personnel to identify and penalize employers who improperly misclassify employees as independent contractors.
  • U.S.D.O.L. budget includes a $67 million increase for worker protection agencies, including $14 million more to OSHA to add 60 enforcement staff and conduct 9 percent more inspections.
  • The EEOC budget includes an $18 million increase that will be used in part to hire 100 new investigators.  Those additions come on top of the EEOC’s 2009 expansion.
  • OSHA has announced that they plan to increase the average fine for a serious violation from $1,000 to $3,000-$4,000.
  • The U.S.D.O.L. Wage and Hour Division launched its “We Can Help” campaign earlier this year.  It essentially presents any employee who is unhappy with their pay with a forum for a nothing-to-lose wage complaint that can be submitted online or through a hotline.

In addition, the number of wage and hour lawsuits filed by employees against employers increased by 44 percent in 2009 over 2008, healthcare reform passed and President Obama recently appointed Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board, tilting the board very much in a pro-labor way.

To help North Carolina employers understand what these developments mean and how they will ultimately be affected, CAI is hosting its annual Employment and Labor Law Update on May 12 and13, 2010 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.  CAI experts and experienced attorneys from Ogletree Deakins will discuss all of the recent changes and help companies understand what they need to worry about now and what they can move down the priority list.

For additional information, please go to www.capital.org/lawupdate.

If you are participating in the conference and would like to tweet your thoughts, we invite you to do so using the hashtag #10ELLU.

Photo Credit: CAI