The #MeToo movement is proving how social media affects the workplace, in this case the culture. While some commentary is concerned with the validity of claims or support of victims, there is no question that it has significantly increased the pressure on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Many employers have responded by increasing workplace training and updating their employment policies.
Developments over the last few years in federal labor law have generated a lot of discussion and analysis. Regulations and decisions affecting joint employer liability and the definition of employees at the federal level obviously draw the attention of employers. Its easy to overlook though that each state is often free to establish their own standards and tests for determining these questions; those standards may sometimes conflict with federal law.
The classification of workers as independent contractors or employees continues to draw aggressive state action. These classifications can significantly impact a host of employment-related areas, but the reason why states involve themselves so much in these determinations often center around taxation issues. To this end, New Jersey recently updated its regulations to make it significantly harder for companies seeking an exemption from unemployment taxes to classify their workers as independent contractors, and it will have a big impact on trucking companies.
The next step in the long running saga over the Browning Ferris rule has finally arrived. After the National Labor Relations Board issued its decision in Browning-Ferris in 2015, a wave of lawsuits, regulatory challenges, and attempted legislative overrides put the future of that decision into doubt. An overturning of the rule became a key focus of the new administration in charge at the National Labor Relations Board. The board even issued a decision that purported to overturn the rule only to have that decision retracted due to an ethics issue. Now, on September 13, 2018, the Board has issued a new proposed regulation that seek to overturn the Browning-Ferris decision.
Labor issues have been causing headaches in the trucking industry for a long time. The industry seems perpetually short of qualified drivers. Ensuring drivers stay compliant with applicable rules on driving times and record-keeping presents a different set of challenges. On top of that, some companies have caused problems by violating labor laws, refusing to pay labor judgments, and thus undercutting their competition.
As part of a widespread regulatory overhaul, the National Labor Relations Board recently issued new guidance on employee handbooks. The new handbook rules are considerably friendlier to employers than the old rules, and the NLRB has tried to provide employers with clear examples of how to remain in compliance with the new guidelines. The guidance results from a case decided by the NLRB in December 2017, The Boeing Company, which overturned a previous Bush II era case that imposed much stricter guidelines for acceptability when reviewing provisions of employee handbooks.
Employment contracts can represent a large area of potential risk for modern businesses. Many companies are used to thinking of their employment practices as an area where lack of diligence can lead to massive lawsuits. Most realize that solid employment contracts can protect them from potential lawsuits by laying out clear expectations for the employer-employee relationship and through agreements to engage in methods of alternative dispute resolution. Still, the contracts, whether as a separate document or through the use of an employee handbook that serves as a binding contract, can lead to several potential landmines for the unwary.
Issues of joint employment responsibility continue to make headlines across the United States. Controversy has reigned ever since the National Labor Relations Board issued its decision in Browning-Ferris which changed the standards for establishing when a joint employment relationship exists. The Board has overturned its Browning-Ferris decision in the intervening years, only to have the case overturning Browning-Ferris itself get overturned due to ethical issues. States have moved forward with enforcing stricter joint employer liability standards even in the absence of federal action. Businesses have had to try and re-define their employment relationships in a world of considerable uncertainty.
Ever since August 27, 2015, employers that use staffing agencies, employ subcontractors or have franchisees have faced significant uncertainty over the extent to which they constitute employers according to the United States Department of Labor. On that day, the National Labor Relations Board issued its decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California. The Browning-Ferris decision overturned recent precedent regarding when two or more entities would qualify as joint employers.
Many regulations put into place during the past few years have faced the potential for roll-backs under the current administration. This holds especially true for some controversial rules issued by the Department of Labor. These roll-backs, though, have introduced their levels of uncertainty into the marketplace, placing companies at considerable risk of unwittingly acting against their own interests.