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Both the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seem to keep changing the definitions of joint employment. It is no wonder this has left employers scratching their head about the situation. The cause for this itch is the analysis differs depending on the law at issue. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), various state employment laws defining “employees,” common law (guided by the National Labor Relations Act), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and workers’ compensation laws all have joint employer doctrines and associated tests that are slightly different from the others.

To demonstrate these differences, we will look at two of the most recent cases that modify the joint employer analysis under both the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). Both these cases define a test – but it is not the same test. Unfortunately, the lesson is that an employer or putative employer will not know whether a person is an employee for the purposes of a particular law without determining first what test should be applied for that law.

If you had asked me one month ago to predict the winner of the presidential election, I would have been wrong. Therefore, rather than make my own [ill-fated] predictions of the changes that await employers when PEOTUS takes office, I consulted my trusty Magic 8 Ball. Here’s what it predicted:

Will the overtime rule ever become law?     

MY SOURCES SAY NO.

We all have heard by now that the Department of Labor (DOL) rules extending eligibility for time-and-a-half overtime pay to some 4.2 million additional workers (including many employees in the hospitality industry) are on hold thanks to an injunction by a federal court judge in Texas.  So what now?  The DOL under the Obama administration was expected to appeal the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, but the Trump administration has different priorities and may decide not to pursue an appeal after all.

Collective bargainingBernice Johnson Blessing is an Associate in GSB’s Labor and Employment, and Hospitality and Corporate Law practice group.  She is also the newest member of the hospitality team and has had a distinguished career in leading human resources teams for hotel management companies and major hospitality brands for more than 15 years. You can reach Bernice at bblessing@gsblaw.com or 206.816.1465.

From franchisers and companies hiring workers through staffing agencies, to participants in the so-called “sharing economy,” companies and individuals today enter into a variety of contractual arrangements to reduce costs and to maximize available capital, flexibility, talent and efficiency in delivering goods and services. The recent decision of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (2015), may change how many of these relationships function, and even, whether some of them are now too risky for some participants.

As you have likely read in the past months, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) recently adopted a new rule requiring almost all employers, including those with non-unionized workplaces, to post a Notice advising employees of certain rights provided to them under the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”).  There was considerable controversy surrounding the new rule, and several postponements of the deadline for compliance.  The deadline was last extended from January 31 to April 30, 2012, and the April 30 deadline seems to be sticking.  So, if you have put the requirement out of your mind given the postponements, it is time to remember them. Information to help you comply with the posting requirement, including downloadable versions of the required Notice can be found at the Board’s site.  The Notice summarizes employees’ rights to negotiate the terms of their employment, form a union, engage in collective bargaining with their employer, strike and picket.  Legal restrictions on certain actions by employers and unions are also listed, along with an explanation of the obligation to bargain in good faith when a union has been selected by employees.

What are the posting requirements?

  • The Notice may be downloaded from the Board’s website, but it must be printed to at least 11 inches x 17 inches in size.
  • The Notice must be posted in conspicuous places where notices to employees are normally posted.  If employee rules and policies are customarily posted on a company’s intranet or internet site, the notice must also be posted there in full or by a link to the Board’s website where the full text of the notice is located.
  • Employers must take steps to ensure the notice is not altered, defaced, or covered with other materials.
  • If 20 percent of an employer’s workforce is not proficient in English, and those persons speak the same foreign language, the employer must also post the notice physically (and electronically, if applicable) in that language.  The Board has provided downloadable copies of the Notice in several languages at the above-referenced website, with more to come.

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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