Friday, December 21, 2012

Ventura v. ABM Industries Incorporated

Defendants waived defense that cause of action for negligent hiring and supervision was barred by the doctrine of workers' compensation where they never asked the court to rule on the issue. Hate is not an element of Civil Code 51.7, which includes the right to be free from violence or threats of violence because of one’s sex.

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NLRB issues significant decisions in recent weeks

December 21, 2012
Office of Public Affairs

The National Labor Relations Board this week made public a number of significant decisions, most reached in the final days of the term of Member Brian Hayes, which ended on December 16. The Board continues with three members, Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Members Richard F. Griffin, Jr. and Sharon Block.
The decisions touch on a variety of issues including social media postings, charter school jurisdiction, backpay awards, the chargeability of certain union lobbying expenses, and an employer’s responsibility to continue dues collection after the expiration of a contract.
Most of the cases were decided the week of December 10, but were issued this week following editing and formatting, which is typical for the final decisions in a Member’s term. Brief descriptions and links to the decisions follow. The list is not exhaustive; for all recent Board decisions please see this page.
Hispanics United of BuffaloThe Board found that the employer unlawfully fired five employees because of their Facebook posts and comments about a coworker who intended to complain to management about their work performance. In its analysis, the Board majority applied settled Board law to the new world of social media, finding that the Facebook conversation was concerted activity and was protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Member Hayes dissented.
Alan Ritchey, Inc. – In a unanimous decision that resolved the last of the two-member cases returned following the 2010 Supreme Court decision in New Process Steel, the Board found that where there is no collectively-bargained grievance-arbitration system in place, employers generally must give the union notice and an opportunity to bargain before imposing discipline such as a discharge or suspension on employees. Member Hayes was recused.
Latino Express In a decision that will affect most cases in which backpay is awarded, the Board decided to require respondents to compensate employees for any extra taxes they have to pay as a result of receiving the backpay in a lump sum. The Board will also require an employer ordered to pay back wages to file with the Social Security Administration a report allocating the back wages to the years in which they were or would have been earned. The Board requested briefs in this case in July 2012. Member Hayes did not participate in the case.
Chicago Mathematics & Science Academy – Rejecting the position of a teachers’ union, the Board found that it had jurisdiction over an Illinois non-profit corporation that operates a public charter school in Chicago. The non-profit was not the sort of government entity exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, the Board majority concluded, and there was no reason for the Board to decline jurisdiction. Member Hayes dissented in part.
United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital) – The Board, with Member Hayes dissenting, addressed several issues involving the rights of nonmember dues objectors under the Supreme Court’s Beck decision. On the main issue, the majority held that, like all other union expenses, lobbying expenses are chargeable to objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment. The Board invited further briefing from interested parties on the how it should define and apply the germaneness standard in the context of lobbying activities.
WKYC-TV, Gannet Co. Applying the general rule against unilateral employer changes in terms and conditions of employment, the Board found that an employer’s obligation to collect union dues under a check-off agreement will continue after the contract expires and before a bargaining impasse occurs or a new contract is reached. Member Hayes dissented.

Federal judge orders Healthbridge to reinstate employees, restore wages and benefits, and bargain with union

December 12, 2012
Office of Public Affairs

A federal judge has ordered a Connecticut nursing home chain to offer reinstatement to approximately 600-700 workers, to rescind changes made to employee wages and benefits, and to bargain in good faith with the union that has long represented its employees
U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny granted the injunction against Healthbridge Management, LLC, at the request of the NLRB Regional Director Jonathan Kreisberg, who has authorized four complaints against the employer alleging a series of unlawful actions at six nursing homes over more than two years. The employees are represented by District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU.
The petition seeking the injunction alleged that after 19 months of bargaining, in June 2012, the company unilaterally implemented contract proposals affecting wages, hours,  benefit eligibility, and retirement and health benefits without first bargaining to a good faith impasse. Employees went on an unfair labor practice strike in protest. In mid-July, the employees through their union offered to return to work under the terms of the contract that existed prior to the unilateral implementation,  but the employer refused to bring them back.
In his order, Judge Chatigny found reasonable cause to believe the employer has refused to bargain in good faith, and that there was a “pressing need to restore the status quo” that existed before the unilateral changes were made. Under the order, Healthbridge must make the offers of reinstatement by Dec. 17. The injunction will remain in effect while the NLRB resolves the underlying Healthbridge cases.
Following hearings, two NLRB administrative law judges previously found that Healthbridge violated federal labor laws by, among other things, unilaterally implementing changes to employee wages and benefits and by prohibiting employees from wearing Union stickers protesting Healthbridge’s unfair labor practices,  Judge Steven Davis’ July 20 decision is here, and Judge Steven Fish’s August 1 decision is here. A third hearing before an administrative law judge is now in progress on charges that the employer illegally locked out workers in December 2011 at its Milford facility, and bargained in bad faith by unilaterally imposing its contract proposals without first bargaining to a good faith impasse as required by the National Labor Relations Act.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

San Francisco-based bank pays more than $1 million in overtime back wages to employees in 5 states following US Labor Department investigation

United States Department of Labor

New Release


First Republic Bank misclassified 392 workers as exempt from overtime pay
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $1,009,643.93 in overtime back wages for 392 First Republic Bank employees in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon. An investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that the San Francisco-based bank wrongly classified the employees as exempt from overtime, resulting in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions.
Investigators found that First Republic Bank failed to consider the FLSA's criteria that allow certain administrative and professional employees to be exempt from receiving overtime pay. In fact, the employees were entitled to overtime compensation at one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked over 40 in a week. Additionally, the bank failed to include bonus payments in nonexempt employees' regular rates of pay when computing overtime compensation, in violation of the act. Record-keeping violations resulted from the employer's failure to record the number of hours worked by the misclassified employees.
"It is essential that employers take the time to carefully assess the FLSA classification of their workforce," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "As this investigation demonstrates, improper classification results in improper wages and causes workers real economic harm."
First Republic Bank is a full-service bank and wealth management company with approximately 1,700 employees in the five states. The bank has paid the back wages in full.
The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee's specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department's regulations.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

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