Employers who have watched the National Labor Relations Board — the nation’s primary enforcer of labor law — over the years anticipate that it will reshuffle its priorities soon after the White House changes parties. The agency swore in Jennifer Abruzzo as its new general counsel on July 22, 2021; and three weeks later, Abruzzo released an internal memorandum that is a blueprint for changes to the law she would like to see the agency implement.
The second quarter of 2021 continues the trend of increasing regulation of the workplace by state and local governments. Several new and revised state and local workplace regulations became effective or will soon be effective, including a trend towards a broader inclusiveness in leave laws. This update reviews these new requirements and recaps Q2 state and local employment law developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance.
In Magadia v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed a $100 million-plus judgment against Walmart and held that employees lack standing to bring a claim under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for labor code violations that they themselves did not suffer. Among other highlights, the federal appeals court found that California’s wage-statement law does not require employers to list a corresponding hourly rate when making a lump sum overtime adjustment payment. The decision provides helpful precedent for businesses litigating wage-and-hour class and representative actions, as well as employers with similar bonus schemes to Walmart.
On June 23, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Cedar Point Nursery et al. v. Hassid et al., holding that a California regulation that granted labor organizations a right to take access to an agricultural employer’s property to solicit support for unionization constitutes a per se physical taking.
In late April 2021, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) signaled its intent to revisit the “Persuader Rule” — an Obama-era regulation that imposes strict reporting requirements on employers facing organization. Although the Persuader Rule has not yet been reinstated, and will almost certainly face significant opposition, employers should be aware of the possible ramifications of the regulation.
As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely accessible, and certain localities relax COVID-19 restrictions, employers hoping to ramp up on-site operations or reduce absenteeism face a new challenge: navigating employee vaccination. Employers are evaluating whether to mandate, strongly suggest or simply remain neutral regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and on-site work.
The considerations surrounding workplace vaccination programs are complex. Business justifications and accommodation issues, potential public relations and employee relations pitfalls, the impact of vaccination on workforce safety procedures, litigation risks on multiple fronts — these are just the beginning. To help piece together this business and regulatory puzzle, we have compiled a list of issues organizations should consider as they set policy and communication plans regarding on-site work and COVID-19 vaccines. We have also identified issues to consider with regard to the practical application of any such policy and the development of related communications to employees or others.