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Wessels Sherman Labor and Employment Law Blog

Historic Supreme Court Decision Today Goes Against AFSCME

The US Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v AFSCME minutes ago ruling against the union in the public sector union fee case. This is a devastating body blow to organized labor. Click below to read the historic decision.

NLRB General Counsel Issues Much Needed Guidance on Lawful Employee Handbook Provisions

On June 6th newly appointed General Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board, Peter B. Robb, issued comprehensive new guidance on employee handbook provisions. The guidelines direct the Board's Regional Directors throughout the country to reverse course from years of decisions issued by the Board majority appointed by then President Obama. Under the Obama Board numerous workplace rules commonly found in employee handbooks, were declared unlawful. Specifically, a long line of NLRB decisions considered many standard provisions interfered with or restrained employees in exercising their right to engage in "concerted activities" protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. The rationale used to justify such an extraordinary expansion of a labor law that has existed since 1947, was based on a hypothetical question: "could" employees interpret a given handbook provision to tamp down their right to strike, or to join together in protest of wages or other terms and conditions of employment? All too often the Board answered this hypothetical question in the affirmative, declaring basic workplace rules on civility, confidentiality, misconduct, etc. violated employee rights. These decisions - and the vague, hypothetical theory on which they were based - left employers in the dark as to what they could include in their employee handbooks without breaking the law. Thankfully, the new guidelines restore the rights of employers to maintain reasonable work rules.

Association Health Plan Expansion Will Ease Burden

The Department of Labor recently issued a final rule providing that, as of September 1, 2018, more employers will be able to participate in Association Health Plans ("AHPs"), meaning a group health plan established by multiple employers that come together to purchase a plan. Prior to issuance of the final rule, employers could only come together if they had a narrowly-defined "commonality of interest"; the new rule provides several additional ways this "commonality of interest" can be met:

LGBTQ Rights vs. Religious Freedom - Fight Lasts for Another Day!

On Monday, June 4, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Masterpiece Cake Shop Ltd, et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et al. Case No. 16-111 in which it ruled in favor of a Christian baker who had refused to bake a custom wedding cake ordered by a same-sex couple in the State of Colorado. As an aside, it is interesting to note that while this Case has been pending for at least six (6) years, at the time that the same-sex couple (Messiers Craig and Mullins) wanted to place their cake order, same-sex marriages were illegal in the State of Colorado. In point of fact, they planned to wed in Massachusetts and host a reception afterwards in Denver.

Help! I Just Found Out I Am Going To Be Audited By The IDES!

What Should Our Company Do?!

As an attorney who has been helping Illinois companies with these kinds of sudden IDES audit notices for the last 30 years, I am well aware of the panic that often sets in when an Illinois company opens a letter from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), and it is a NOTICE OF IDES AUDIT.

Is the Prevailing Wage Act Back? Sort of.

Almost two years ago, I authored an article asking whether the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act was under attack (given the Illinois Department of Labor's (IDOL) lack of prevailing wage enforcement under the Rauner administration). As you may recall from my previous articles, the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act requires employers to pay the prevailing wage rate to employees employed in any public works.

FMLA and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse (whether it be related to alcohol or drug use) is a potentially serious workplace issue that can quickly become extremely complicated. It is very important for all Employers to keep in mind that substance abuse can, in and of itself, be considered as a serious health condition and as such, may come under coverage of the Family Medical Leave Act and allow the Employee to be qualified for FMLA Leave.

Supreme Court's Ruling Regarding Arbitration Clauses is Positive News for Employers

On May 21, 2018, in a 5-4 majority decision, the U.S. Supreme Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis ruled that employers can require as a condition of employment that workers waive their rights to participate in class action lawsuits by entering into a mandatory arbitration clause in their employment agreement. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion which sided with businesses whose employment contracts include mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent class action lawsuits. The Court ruled that workers who have signed agreements with these types of clauses included in the document must pursue their claims individually and not as part of a class action. The Court's ruling strengthens employers' arguments that employment contracts that impose mandatory arbitration clauses regarding disputes of any kind do not violate their employees' constitutional rights. Many businesses impose mandatory arbitration clauses that specifically forbid class action lawsuits. With this most recent ruling it is estimated that companies will increasingly use these types of clauses to limit their liability exposure.

Over 40 Need Not Apply?

One of the constants over the last few decades in Labor and Employment Law has been the fact that our society has become more litigious (i.e. people file lawsuits at the drop of a hat). Unfortunately, that saga now seems to be impacting the "older generation" as well.

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