Labor & Employment

NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Limit Employers’ Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace, Following the Recent Regulatory Trends

On October 31, 2022, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) released Memorandum GC 23-02 urging the Board to interpret existing Board law to adopt a new legal framework to find electronic monitoring and automated or algorithmic management practices illegal if such monitoring or management practices interfere with protected activities under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).  The Board’s General Counsel stated in the Memorandum that “[c]lose, constant surveillance and management through electronic means threaten employees’ basic ability to exercise their rights,” and urged the Board to find that an employer violates the Act where the employer’s electronic monitoring and management practices, when viewed as a whole, would tend to “interfere with or prevent a reasonable employee from engaging in activity protected by the Act.”  Given that position, it appears that the General Counsel believes that nearly all electronic monitoring and automated or algorithmic management practices violate the Act.

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New Jersey Health Care Workers: New Job Protections Following Changes in Control of Their Health Care Entity Employer

Effective November 16, 2022,  non-governmental health care entities must offer eligible employees continued employment for at least four months following a change in control without any reduction in their wages and benefits – including paid time off, health care, retirement, and education benefits in accordance with Senate Bill No. 315 (the Law).  Change in control includes sales, transfers, assignments, mergers, and reorganizations and is deemed to “occur on the date of execution of the document effectuating the change.”

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New Job Protections for New Jersey Health Care Workers Following Changes in Control of Their Health Care Entity Employer

Effective November 16, 2022,  non-governmental health care entities must offer eligible employees continued employment for at least four months following a change in control without any reduction in their wages and benefits – including paid time off, health care, retirement, and education benefits in accordance with Senate Bill No. 315 (the Law).  Change in control includes sales, transfers, assignments, mergers, and reorganizations and is deemed to “occur on the date of execution of the document effectuating the change.”

An “eligible employee” means any individual employed at the health care entity during the 90 days preceding a change in control or any former employee with recall rights under a collective bargaining agreement. The Law exempts managers, executive employees, or any employee discharged for cause during the 90-day period. “Cause” is not defined in the Law, however.

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Following the Recent Regulatory Trends, NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Limit Employers’ Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

On October 31, 2022, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) released Memorandum GC 23-02 urging the Board to interpret existing Board law to adopt a new legal framework to find electronic monitoring and automated or algorithmic management practices illegal if such monitoring or management practices interfere with protected activities under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).  The Board’s General Counsel stated in the Memorandum that “[c]lose, constant surveillance and management through electronic means threaten employees’ basic ability to exercise their rights,” and urged the Board to find that an employer violates the Act where the employer’s electronic monitoring and management practices, when viewed as a whole, would tend to “interfere with or prevent a reasonable employee from engaging in activity protected by the Act.”  Given that position, it appears that the General Counsel believes that nearly all electronic monitoring and automated or algorithmic management practices violate the Act.

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Companies That Use Noncompetes Face Increased Risk of Government Action Following FTC’s Unilateral Expansion of its Enforcement Powers

Perhaps we were wrong. Or perhaps we were just not thinking creatively enough. After President Biden issued his “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” in which he “encourage[d]” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “consider” exercising its statutory rulemaking authority “to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” we assumed that Lina Khan, the 33-year-old Biden-appointed Chair of the FTC (and a vocal opponent of noncompetes), would take the torch and propose a Rule prohibiting, or at the very least severely limiting, the use of noncompetes. And she may still do so.

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First Circuit Upholds Employer’s Win in Retaliation Suit

On November 1, 2022, in Dusel v. Factory Mutual Ins. Co., the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that “close temporal proximity” alone does not establish pretext as this evidence “must be considered alongside the . . . record.” Nor does mere close temporal proximity establish pretext where the employer has a legitimate business reason for taking adverse action against the employee, and more particularly, where the employer subsequently discovers the employee’s misconduct in a separate, unrelated matter. Dusel is a win for employers because it signals that engaging in protected activity will not immunize an employee from the consequences of misconduct that violates company policy if the employer enforces its policy consistently and documents the reasons underlying the employee’s discipline.

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D.C. Voters Vote to Phase out Tip Credit and Nebraska Voters Raise State Minimum Wage

On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Washington, D.C. voters approved a ballot measure to eliminate the “tip credit” which allowed service industry employers to pay servers, bartenders, and other tipped employees $5.35 an hour rather than D.C.’s $16.10 per hour minimum wage. Currently, employers are required to pay the balance if an employee is unable to make up the difference through tips. Initiative 82 will phase out the tip credit, raising the tip credit minimum wage to $6.00 in January 2023, and then to $8 on July 1, 2023, and then increasing by $2.00 every year until 2027. In 2027, D.C. service industry employers will be required to pay employees at D.C.’s effective minimum wage.

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Video: Potential for NLRA Expansion, EEOC Disavows Former GC’s Comments, California Adds Marijuana Employment Protections – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  This week, we shed light on the growing issues surrounding electronic employee monitoring, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) disavowal of comments by a former General Counsel (GC) regarding abortion travel benefits, and California’s latest marijuana employment protection law.

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Massachusetts Non-Compete Laws: 2022 Update

Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2022 update to “Non-Compete Laws: Massachusetts,” a Q&A guide to non-compete agreements between employers and employees for private employers in Massachusetts, authored by our colleagues David J. Clark and Erik Weibust, attorneys at Epstein Becker Green.

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Time Spent Booting Up Computers May Be Compensable, According to Unanimous 9th Circuit

In reversing a Nevada district court’s grant of summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit, in Cadena v. Customer Connexx LLC, recently held that the time call center employees spent booting up their computers is compensable. Because a functioning computer was necessary for the call center employees to do their job, the court unanimously agreed that the time required to turn on their computer and log in was “integral and indispensable to their principal activities” and, therefore, compensable, subject to certain limitations.

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