On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (U.S. Jun. 15, 2020), which held that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a 6-3 opinion authored by
On May 1, 2020, Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At Large) announced a proposed bill, co-sponsored by Helen Gym (At Large) and Bobby Henon (6th District), that would increase the amount of paid sick leave available to workers who continue to physically report to their jobs during a “public health emergency.” This bill comes on the heels of much outcry from state and local officials hoping to address the fact that millions of workers have been excluded from federal emergency paid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act create certain emergency sick time provisions for workers, these statutes exclude many employees. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 3 million workers have been excluded the law’s exemptions. The Brooks bill would certainly address these shortcomings.
Continue Reading Philadelphia councilmembers propose bill to increase paid sick leave for many federally excluded employees
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a substantial impact on the U.S. workplace. Please click here for a series of FAQs we have compiled based on some of the more common questions that clients with U.S.-based employees have posed to us within the past few weeks.
These FAQs are general…
Please see an updated version of our FAQs as of April 18, 2020.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a substantial impact on the U.S. workplace. Please click here for a series of FAQs we have compiled based on some of the more common questions that clients with U.S.-based employees…
On March 24, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided to postpone the effective date of its final rule modifying the Agency’s regulation on union representative-case procedures, from April 16, 2020 to May 31, 2020, in order to facilitate the resolution of legal challenges.
The NLRB’s final rule, which rolled back some of the burdensome requirements of the “quickie election” rule issued under the Obama Administration, was published on December 13, 2019. Many employers argued that the original quickie election rule stripped them of the proper due process that they should have been afforded when served with a union representation petition. Further, employers complained that the rule inherently shortened the election campaign timeframe and impeded those employers that had hoped to give employees guidance about union representation, leaving such employees with substantially less time to consider important facts necessary for making a thoughtful choice during a union election.
Continue Reading NLRB extends effective date of its final rule modifying representation case procedures – Now effective May 31, 2020
On February 26, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its final rule governing joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in the federal register. The final rule will undo a more relaxed Obama-era joint-employer test by reinstating the joint-employer standard that the Board followed for several decades prior to its 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. According to the Board, its ruling provides “greater precision, clarity, and detail that rulemaking allows,” as to what constitutes a joint employer.
The Browning-Ferris decision held that a company could be deemed a joint employer if “its control over the essential terms and conditions of another business’s employees was merely indirect, limited and routine, or contractually reserved but never exercised.” However, with its final rule, the Board will reinstate a pre-Browning-Ferris test which holds that a business is only a joint employer if it “has substantial direct and immediate control” of one or more essential terms or condition of a worker’s job such that the business “meaningfully affects matters” pertaining to the employment relationship. In its ruling, the NLRB defined those “essential terms and conditions of employment” as “wages, benefits, hours of work, hiring, discharge, discipline, supervision, and direction.” It also defined “substantial” direct control as actions that have “a regular or continuous consequential effect” on one of the eight core aspects of a worker’s job that the Board listed, while pointing out that any direct control that is “sporadic, isolated, or de minimus” is insufficient to warrant a finding of joint employment.Continue Reading The NLRB offers “clarity” on its joint-employer test by issuing its final rule
In 2017, the City of Philadelphia enacted the Wage Equity Ordinance to address the pay gap between men and women and between different races and ethnicities. The Ordinance contains two provisions: the “Inquiry Provision,” which prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee’s wage history; and the “Reliance Provision,” which prohibits an employer from relying on wage history at any point in the process of setting or negotiating a prospective employee’s wage. Mayor Jim Kenny signed the Ordinance into law in January 2017 after it was unanimously passed by Philadelphia City Council.
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, however, filed a lawsuit alleging that both provisions of the Wage Equity Ordinance infringed on the chamber and its members’ First Amendment freedom of speech rights. In the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia v. City of Philadelphia et al., the Honorable Mitchell Goldberg from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted the chamber a preliminary injunction on the Inquiry Provision in April 2018, holding that the Ordinance violates employers’ freedom of speech rights. Judge Goldberg, however, upheld the Reliance Provision, which prohibits reliance on wage history, based on the court’s conclusion that such reliance did not implicate protected speech. In other words, Judge Goldberg found that an employer could ask about a candidate’s salary history, but could not use the information. Both parties appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Continue Reading Don’t Ask, Don’t Use – the Third Circuit allows the Philadelphia salary history ban ordinance to go into effect
On December 16, 2019, in Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc. d/b/a Valley Hospital Medical Center (368 NLRB No. 139 (2019)), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned its 2015 decision in Lincoln Lutheran of Racine (362 NLRB 1655 (2015)), restoring the Board’s 50+ year precedent established under Bethlehem Steel (136 NLRB 1500 (1962), that there is no independent statutory obligation to check off and pay employees’ union dues after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), even where the contract does not contain a union security provision. The decision is part of a trend of the current Board to reinstate legal standards that had stood for decades before being overturned during the Obama administration’s union-friendly Board.
In Valley Medical Center, the CBA between the employer and the union expired on December 31, 2016. The parties continued to operate under the expired contract, which contained a “check-off” provision that stated “the Check-Off Agreement and system heretofore entered into and established by the Employer and the Union for the check-off of Union dues by voluntary authorization … shall be continued in effect for the term of the Agreement.” The authorization form also stated that it was valid “during the term of the Agreement.” On February 1, 2018, almost 13 months after the expiration of the parties’ contract, and after providing 5 days’ notice and without providing the Union with an opportunity to bargain, the employer stopped deducting Union employees’ dues.Continue Reading NLRB returns to past precedent in holding that employer’s duty to deduct union dues ceases when collective bargaining agreement expires
The sci-fi film Minority Report envisions the year 2054, when the U.S. government uses predictive foreknowledge of “precogs” to apprehend criminals before their crimes are ever committed, thereby reducing future harm. More than 15 years after the popular film was made, the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Shell v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company arrives at a similar result. The Shell court held that employers do not violate the ADA when they use current predictors of future disabilities, such as obesity, to reject candidates for employment, thereby reducing future costs. This ground-breaking opinion opens the door for employer use of predictive tools such as genetic testing and AI algorithms to discern which applicants or employees are most likely to develop future (costly) disabilities, and exclude them from the workforce before disabilities arise, and before legally protected status attaches. In other words, the opinion allows employers to exclude someone based on a status of “likely to develop a future disability,” without violating the ADA, because the individual does not currently have the status of “disabled.”
Continue Reading The future is now: Employer use of present-day medical information to predict future disabilities does not violate the ADA
On October 8, 2019, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three landmark LGBTQ+ rights cases, which could broaden protections for the LGBTQ+ community by prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation, transgender-status, or gender identity under federal law. Currently, conflicting federal cases and shifts in interpretation and policies at administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice have left employers without clear guidance on what is, or is not, protected at a federal level (separate and apart from state and local protections). In Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, since consolidated, the Court will consider whether the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the Court will consider whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people. The cases are summarized below.
Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda / Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia – factual background
Donald Zarda worked as a skydiving instructor for Altitude Express, Inc., responsible for taking clients on tandem skydives, strapped hip-to-hip and shoulder-to-shoulder to the client. In June 2010, while carrying out a tandem skydiving session with a young woman, Zarda stated he was gay in defense of a female client’s allegation that he touched her inappropriately. Altitude Express terminated Zarda’s employment on the grounds that he shared inappropriate information with clients regarding his personal life. After a three-judge panel ruled against Zarda, the Second Circuit, in an en banc decision, overturned the lower court, holding that discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII.Continue Reading Supreme Court poised to hear oral arguments in blockbuster LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination cases