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Daniel Long is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Benefits Practice, and is based in the Boston office. While in law school, he was a legal intern at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General in the Insurance and Financial Services Division, and served as a senior editor of the Boston College Law Review.

In a setback to private colleges and universities, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on August 23, 2016 that student assistants have unionization and collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act. In so ruling, the Board reversed its 2004 decision in Brown University, in which it held that graduate students are not employees under the NLRA, and therefore do not have unionization rights.  The immediate effect of the new Columbia University holding is that graduate and undergraduate student assistants will be able to unionize. The far-reaching decision has the potential to transform the student assistant-university relationship, as well as the collegiate learning environment.

While graduate student unions are commonplace at many public colleges and universities (as students’ unionization and collective bargaining rights at public institutions are governed by state law), the Columbia decision expands unionization and collective bargaining rights to student assistants at private colleges and universities, including to undergraduate student assistants and to student assistants who receive research funding from external grants.  This decision – which fundamentally injects NLRA considerations into the relationship between student and university – has important implications for private colleges and universities and their employment of student assistants.

Continue Reading National Labor Relations Board Grants Student Assistants the Right to Unionize at Private Colleges and Universities

Many employers are familiar with the fact that the EEOC regularly conducts on-site workplace investigations after receiving charges of discrimination or harassment.  A recent federal court decision, however, may lead to an uptick in such on-site investigations – even if the EEOC does not have an administrative warrant for the investigation and even if the employer does not consent.

A federal court in Kentucky recently held that the EEOC has the authority to conduct a warrantless, nonconsensual search of a private employer’s commercial property to investigate a discrimination claim.  This marks the first decision in which a federal court confronted this issue.  Though this is not a favorable decision for employers, the court delineated several limitations and safeguards that help fetter the EEOC’s on-site inspection authority.

Continue Reading Federal Court Allows the EEOC to Conduct Investigation on Employer’s Premises Without Employer Consent or a Warrant

Ah, the tell-tale signs of March are here.  The winter is starting to dissipate in the northern climes, we’ve set the clocks forward, and Syracuse is bound for another Final Four run.  Unfortunately, most teams won’t be so lucky and many coaches will soon find themselves on a beach.  And why not?  After a long, hard-fought season that fell just a bit short, might as well take a warm-weather vacation – go for a quick swim, maybe hit the amusement park, and take a few pictures of all the fun in the sun and post them to Facebook.  Sounds like a marvelous idea for many NCAA coaches, but not so much for employees out on FMLA leave.  The plaintiff in Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care of Delaware, a recent case out of a Florida federal court, learned this the hard way.

Continue Reading Busted [Bracket]: Facebook Posts From Employee’s Vacation Undermine FMLA Claims

The Fifth Circuit recently sided with an employer in an off-the-clock overtime case where the employee failed to comply with her employer’s overtime approval and reporting policies.  For employers, this decision highlights the importance of implementing overtime authorization and reporting policies to defeat these claims.

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Rejects Employee’s FLSA Off-the-Clock Claim; Highlights Importance of Overtime Authorization and Reporting Policies in Off-the-Clock Cases

In August, we wrote about the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Abril-Rivera v. Johnson, which affirmed a lower court ruling dismissing location-based discrimination and retaliation claims against FEMA.  Last week, however, the First Circuit withdrew that decision and issued an amended opinion in the case.  It is still a victory for employers, but one with slightly less import.

Continue Reading First Circuit Withdraws Earlier Opinion in Location-Based Discrimination Case; Issues Less Expansive Amended Opinion

The Eleventh Circuit recently joined the Second Circuit in adopting the employer-friendly “primary beneficiary” test to determine whether unpaid interns are properly classified as employees under the FLSA.  The Second Circuit’s June decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. struck the first blow in this area, and the Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision in Schumann v. Collier Anesthesia, P.A. provides employers with additional momentum in deterring future unpaid intern lawsuits.

Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Joins Second Circuit in Holding the Unpaid Intern FLSA Classification Analysis Depends on the “Primary Beneficiary” of the Relationship.

Recently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that former employees of a FEMA call center could not proceed in their Title VII location-based disparate impact and retaliation claims against the agency.  The case, Abril-Rivera v. Johnson, involved employees who worked for FEMA, a government agency, but the decision has important implications for private sector employers as well.

Continue Reading First Circuit Says Plaintiffs Cannot Prevail on Location-Based Discrimination Claims Based on a Disparate Impact Theory

Last Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc held that telecommuting up to four days a week was not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA for a disabled Ford Motor Co. employee.  The decision, EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., provided a win for employers (and a setback for the EEOC) by reversing an earlier decision issued by a divided panel of three Sixth Circuit judges, which had held that telecommuting was a reasonable accommodation for this particular employee.

Continue Reading En Banc Sixth Circuit Decision Holds That Telecommuting Was Not a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act for Ford Employee

Though snow still blankets the ground in many states and winter continues to drag on, there is a telltale sign that spring is nigh: daylight savings time begins on Sunday March 8, 2015 at 2:00 a.m.  At that time, the clocks “spring” forward from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. – a change that carries several implications for employers.

Continue Reading Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday; When “Springing Forward” Employers Should Make Sure to Stick the Landing

Recently, Mintz Levin held a seminar in New York City that we designed to address some of the major challenges employers are facing in the New Year.  Our program contained segments on New York City’s paid sick leave law, effective management of HR Issues, the Affordable Care Act, employment practices liability insurance coverage, and workplace privacy.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting a series of entries following up on the critical workplace issues raised during these segments.

Today’s topic: Social Media Policies and the NLRB

During our workplace privacy segment, our presenters, Mintz Levin attorneys Cynthia Larose and Richard Block, and Vice President, Deputy General Counsel of Time, Inc., Michelle Goldstein, addressed several issues that employers are grappling with as they settle into 2015, including employee notification issues raised in connection with a data breach, protecting employee data residing on cloud-based storage servers, privacy lawsuits resulting from wiping data from mobile devices; data breaches as an issue raised during collective bargaining (which we will address in a separate post) and the topic we are addressing in this post: social media policies and the NLRB.

Continue Reading Workplace Challenges in 2015, Part 2 of 5: Continued Focus on Social Media Policies that the NLRB Will Endorse