Drinker Biddle Labor & Employment Lawyers Ranked in Chambers USA 2013

Posted on May 30th, by Editor in Counseling & Compliance Training. No Comments

Congratulations to the Labor & Employement group lawyers and practices who were recognized as leaders in their field in  Chambers USA 2013.  Those lawyers who were recognized include Labor & Employment group co-chair Tom Barton (Band 3) and Florham Park partners John Ridley (Band 1) and Lynne Anderson (Band 3).

Sources said about the New Jersey practice (Band 2), “They were eloquent and responsive to a tee. Everyone has been extremely helpful”.  When asked about John Ridley, one client commented “He is a seasoned litigator and has been doing employment law for so long that he is a real asset”.  Another interviewee praised Lynne Anderson for her ability to “remain calm amid the nastiness of litigation.”

When asked about Tom Barton, one client commented  “Smart, creative and practical” and “tries to find a solution for his clients.”  And when commenting on the Pennsylvania practice (Band 4), a client noted ” They’ve been … Read More »

Whistleblowing May Not Be Limited to Claims About Employer Wrongdoing in New Jersey

Posted on May 21st, by Editor in Counseling & Compliance Training. 1 Comment

By: Jerrold J. Wohlgemuth

The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) was designed to protect whistleblowing employees who have the courage to stand up to illegal or wrongful conduct by their employer.  As the courts have consistently held, the initial focus in a typical CEPA case is on the whistleblower’s prima facie case burden to establish that he/she had an objectively reasonable basis to believe that the employer did something wrong by either violating a law or engaging in conduct incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy.

In an unreported opinion issued in March 2013, however, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey found that CEPA can be implicated even where there is no claim or contention that the employer did anything wrong.  In Stapleton v. DSW, Inc. (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38502), the plaintiff employee believed … Read More »

Unpaid Internships – Training Programs or a Lesson in Class Actions?

By: Kate S. Gold and Elena S. Min

Summer is quickly approaching, and eager students are lining up for internship opportunities, some of which may be unpaid.  The whole topic has caused a firestorm of news stories lately – including an NYU students’ petition to remove unpaid internship postings from the campus career center, and an auction by an on-line charity website for a six week unpaid internship at the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights (the current bid is $26,000).  Do unpaid internships run afoul of federal and state minimum wage laws?  The answer potentially is yes, but given recent successful challenges to class certification, employers now have useful guidance in developing defense strategies against such claims.

Last week, in Wang v. The Hearst Corporation, U.S.D.C. S.D.N.Y. Case No. 12-CV-00793, the court denied class certification in a case brought by interns at … Read More »

Federal Appeals Court Rejects NLRB Union Poster Rule

Posted on May 8th, by Editor in Counseling & Compliance Training. No Comments

By: Mark D. Nelson

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently held that the National Labor Relations Board’s (Board) rule that required employers to post a new notice that promoted the right to unionize (sometimes referred to as the NLRB union poster rule) violated employers’ free speech rights under Section 8 (c) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Board issued the highly controversial rule in August of 2011 that required employers to post the new notice.  Employer groups soon challenged the rule, arguing that the rule exceeded the Board’s authority to enforce the Act.

The Court noted that Section 8(c) of the Act gives employers the right to communicate with employees about union representation as long no threats or promises of benefits are made.  The right of free speech, the Court stated, also includes the right to be silent.  The … Read More »

NLRB Issues Guidance on Lawful Confidentiality Language

Posted on May 6th, by Editor in Audits/Due Diligence. No Comments

By: Marion B. Cooper

On July 30, 2012, the NLRB (“Board”) issued a decision in Banner Health System dba Estrella Medical Center, 358 NLRB No. 93 holding, among other things, that the employer violated Section 8(a)(1) (which prohibits employers from interfering, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights), by restricting employees from discussing any complaint that was then the subject of an ongoing internal investigation.

To minimize the impact of such a confidentiality mandate on employees’ Section 7 rights, the Board found that an employer must make an individualized determination in each case that its “legitimate business justification” outweighed the employee’s rights to protected concerted activity in discussing workplace issues.  In Banner Health, the employer did not carry its burden to show a legitimate business justification because it failed to make a particularized showing that:

Witnesses were in need of … Read More »

WARN Act Liability And Private Equity Firms

By: David J. Woolf

Last month’s decision out of the Delaware District Court in Woolery, et al. v. Matlin Patterson Global Advisers, LLC, et al. was an eye opener for private equity firms and other entities owning a controlling stake in a faltering business.  Breaking from the norm, the Court refused to dismiss private equity firm MatlinPatterson Global Advisers, LLC (“MatlinPatterson”) and affiliated entities from a class action WARN Act suit alleging that the 400-plus employees of Premium Protein Products, LLC (“Premium”), a Nebraska-based meat processer and MatlinPatterson portfolio company, hadn’t received the statutorily-mandated 60 days advance notice of layoffs.

According to the plaintiffs, Premium’s performance began to decline in 2008 and, upon the downturn, the defendants became more and more involved in Premium’s day-to-day operations, including by making business strategy decisions (e.g., to enter the kosher food market), terminating Premium’s existing … Read More »

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