NLRB’s New Joint Employer Standard Creates Enormous Uncertainty


Late last week, the National Labor Relations Board published a decision that will make many business leaders’ heads spin. By pronouncing a new legal standard to be used to determine if a business is a “joint employer” of another’s employees, the Board has created an unprecedented amount of uncertainty for all types of businesses. Under this new standard, employers may have new obligations and liabilities under federal labor law in relation to employees of a variety of other companies with which they do business – their contractors, their suppliers, their franchisees, their subsidiaries, and more. Continue reading this entry

FMLA Eligible or Not Eligible … That Is the Question


The easiest part of handling a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) situation is determining at the outset whether the employee is eligible for FMLA protections, right? Not so fast. Recent cases have added the seemingly simple eligibility determination to the rotisserie of FMLA issues on which employees may baste employers.

An employee is eligible for FMLA protections if: 1) she has been employed with a particular employer for at least 12 months; and 2) has worked at least 1,250 hours for that employer in the previous 12 months. It may appear to be a straightforward analysis, but like all things “FMLA,” even the determination of eligibility has some traps for the unwary. Continue reading this entry

It’s Back to School Time for Students and Your Parent Employees, Too


It’s that time of year when students around the country head back to school. In addition to watching their office supplies fly out of their store rooms, employers will see an increase in employee requests for time off work to deal with a variety of their kids’ school-related activities.

In evaluating parental requests for time off, employers need to be mindful that at least ten states and the District of Columbia provide some legal protection to workers who seek leave to attend to their children’s school-related activities. Continue reading this entry

NLRB Calls Audible — No Union for Northwestern


Over a year ago, the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Chicago concluded that scholarship athletes on the Northwestern University football team were “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, giving them the right to unionize and bargain over terms and conditions of their purported employment. The ruling garnered national attention and raised the specter of a massive shift in how college athletics operated. However, on August 17, a panel of the NLRB reviewing the Regional Director’s ruling declined to exercise jurisdiction over the petition to unionize Northwestern University’s football players. Essentially declaring that the Regional Director’s initial authorization of the petition was a false start, the NLRB emphasized the practical realities of the case in concluding that allowing the petition would not “promote stability in labor relations.” It noted that the vast majority of Northwestern’s FBS competitors are public universities over which the NLRB has no jurisdiction. Since major college football is interconnected, the NLRB reasoned that allowing one school’s players to be unionized would not promote labor relations and might upset the balance of competition. Northwestern, the only private school in the Big Ten within the NLRB’s jurisdiction, did not need another competitive hurdle, and issued a statement, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), applauding the decision. Continue reading this entry

New Social Security Card Application Requisites Raise Eyebrows


On August 10, 2015, the Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted a final rule that, as of September 9, 2015, eliminates the requirement that applicants seeking to obtain a new or replacement Social Security number card submit “documentary evidence.” The Social Security number (SSN) is issued on a Social Security Card and consists of a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) foreign nationals residents. The number is issued by the SSA, an independent agency of the United States government. Although its primary purpose is to track individuals for Social Security purposes, the Social Security number has become a de facto national identification number for taxation and other purposes. For employers, the card serves as one of the primary forms of employment eligibility on USCIS Form I-9. Continue reading this entry