Labor Law Articles

Labor Contract Can Require Arbitration of Discrimination Claims

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            In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that union members covered by labor agreements containing clear and unmistakable language requiring them to arbitrate statutory claims are bound by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and forfeit their right to file private lawsuits. 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, No. 07-581 (April 1, 2009). The Court’s holding effectively overturns the widely held view that a union contract’s arbitration procedure was limited to resolving contractual violations and could not prevent an employee from going to court to resolve statutory violations. This belief was based on the Court’s 1974 decision in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver, which seemed to suggest that an arbitration clause in a labor agreement could not bar union members from pursuing their statutory claims in a court of law.

NLRA Protection Limited to Applicants with a Genuine Interest in Employment

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            The National Labor Relations Board recently changed the standard it applies when determining if job applicants are entitled to the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. Toering Electric, 351 NLRB No. 18 (Sept. 29 2007). Previously, all applicants were considered covered by the Act, provided the employer had concrete hiring plans, the applicant had relevant experience, and anti-union animus contributed to the employer’s decision not to hire the applicant.

Non-Union Employee Complaints Can Trigger NLRA Liability

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            Non-union employers often fail to consider the implications of federal labor law when taking action against employees claiming to speak for co-workers. In a recent case decided by the Connecticut Superior Court, an employee who was terminated after raising complaints about employee morale was prevented from bringing a state law claim; however, her claim was found to be governed by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Hobson v. Mark Facey & Co., 2006 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3303 (Nov. 3, 2006).

Non-Union Employer Policies Must Comply with National Labor Relations Act

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Non union employers often believe they are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), which generally governs union-management relations. As two recent cases handed down by the D.C. Circuit make clear, the NLRA’s provisions must be considered when any employer drafts employment policies.

Employer’s Duty to Report Union Payments Under LMRDA

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            For many years employers have been required to annually file reports with the U.S. Department of Labor outlining any payments made to unions, union officials, or labor relations consultants. Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq. The Department historically has been lax in enforcing the requirement, but recently issued new enforcement guidance clarifying disclosure obligations.


 

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