Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ohio decides arming teachers is the solution to mass shootings in schools; Ohio is very wrong

Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a new law that will lower the training hours school personnel to be armed from about 700 hours to a mere 24 hours — four for scenario-based training plus 20 for first-aid training, school-shooting history eduction, and reunification education.

This law is the worst possible idea to solve our gun violence and school shooting epidemic. Here are six reasons why.

Monday, June 13, 2022

LGBTQ+ rights vs. religious liberty

"It's an abomination to God. Rainbow is not meant to be displayed as a sign for sexual gender."

That's what Daniel Snyder wrote on the electronic bulletin board of his employer, Arconic. According to the Des Moines Register and Snyder's recently filed lawsuit, it's also what got him fired.

Friday, June 10, 2022

WIRTW #629: the “podcast appearance” edition

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of appearing on the Decision Vision podcast. The topic of discussion: "Should I allow my company to unionize?"

In an answer that should surprise absolutely no one who's been reading along, my answer is a firm, "No."

Part of my reasoning is that I do not believe unions continue to provide a necessary and valuable service for the employees they represent.

You can listen to the full interview here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

While we're talking about podcasts, please don't forget to listen to this week's episode of The Norah and Dad Show, available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, our website, and everywhere else podcasts are available. We discuss fructose malabsorption, the end of Norah's school year, her first gig of a very busy summer of music, Mexican food, sewer tweets, memes for Jesus, and Frustoseaid 88. 

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Can you legally close a facility in response to unionization?

Almost two months to the day that workers at the College Ave. Starbucks location in Ithaca, New York, voted to unionize, the coffee conglomerate announced its intent to close the store on June 10. Employees claim that the closure was in retaliation for unionization and a post-vote wildcat strike over an overflowed grease trap.

In a tweet, Starbucks stated that the decision to close that store was not "easy" and that it was based on "many factors." The store's workers allege in an NLRB unfair labor practice charge that the only "factor" is illegal retaliation.

Do the employees have an argument? Can a company close a facility in response to unionization? Not surprisingly, it depends.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The 6th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2022” is … the sexual harassment ignorer

All of the following allegedly happened during the mere five weeks that Hannah Navarro worked at a Pratville, Alabama, Chipotle restaurant.

  • On Navarro's first day of employment, Nick Baker, the store's general manager, said that she could sit on his lap.
  • A few days later Baker told Navarro that she could be his "boo." He then grabbed her arm when she told him that she had a boyfriend and declined.
  • Baker (along with other male employees) would pass around pictures of female employees (including Navarro), visit their social media accounts, and make open comments about their bodies at work.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Surveilling your employee’s online activity to out union supporters is illegal … like, really, really illegal

Elon Musk. The name itself evokes a visceral reaction. Electric car visionary. Astronaut wannabe. Opponent of remote work. Potential Twitter owner. Failed SNL host. 

And, according to CNBC, Musk is also a spy, illegally surveilling his employees' online activities during a 2017 and 2018 union organizing drive at one of Tesla's factories.

Friday, June 3, 2022

WIRTW #628: the “summer tour” edition

Outdoor music season is beginning here in Northeast Ohio, which means that my daughter has a bunch of shows booked for the summer … starting this coming Sunday from 4 - 6 pm at Crocker Park.

You’ll find all of the specifics for all of the shows, including locations and, when available, performance times at norahmariemusic.com. Please stop by and say hello.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Mere "discouragement" is enough to state an FMLA interference claim, federal appeals court holds

"You've taken serious amounts of FMLA … don't take any more FMLA. If you do so, you will be disciplined."

That's what Salvatore Ziccarelli, a corrections officer with the Cook County Sheriff's Office suffering from PTSD, claimed that the FMLA manager, Wylola Shinnawi, told him upon expressing his intent to enter an eight-week in-patient treatment program. 

Based on that conversation (the substance of which Shinnawi disputed), Ziccarelli decided to retire … and sue his employer and Shinnawi for FMLA interference.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Do you know? Unfair labor practice strikes

Workers who recently organized a Peoria, Illinois, Starbucks walked off the job on a recent Saturday in protest of alleged unfair labor practice committed by their employer at the store. The strike lasted a half-day and there are reports of similar strikes at other stores around the country.

Week.com quotes one employee on the picket line, Jon Gill, "Starbucks is breaking the law. Starbucks is retaliating against us, and if we do not organize ourselves to fight back, then we are showing Starbucks that we are allowing them to break the law."

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Union yes? Employees, be careful what you wish for.

On Jan. 7, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting in Detroit temporarily closed following a Covid outbreak that sidelined nine employees. It never reopened, and now it's closed permanently.

What happened? A labor union happened.

Friday, May 27, 2022

WIRTW #627: the “you’re 16” edition

Everyone please wish my smart, compassionate, talented, beautiful, kick-ass daughter a happy 16th birthday!!!
Here's what I read this past week that I think you should read, too.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Explaining the “Golden Age of Union Organizing”

Unions aren't just having a moment, they are having their best moment in at least 50 years.

  • What has caused the "perfect storm" of union organizing that employers are currently experiencing?
  • How have the White House's policies impacted unionization and collective bargaining?
  • What explains the trend of smaller, "in-house" unions, such as those seen at Starbucks and Amazon?
  • How should employers assess their labor strategies in response to these changes?

This week, I joined the ProjectHR Podcast to discuss The Golden Age of Union Organizing, the forces that are helping to cause it, and how employers should be responding and reacting.

Here's a preview of what you'll hear in the episode.

You can listen to the entire episode here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Breaches of confidentiality during internal investigations chill future reports of workplace misconduct

"Nothing you share will be attributed to you and your feedback will remain anonymous."

That's what an HR consultant advised employees of BrewDog prior to their participation in an anonymous workplace culture review of the international brewing company.

Kate Bernot reports at Good Beer Hunting, however, that at least one former employee who participated discovered that her personal information was provided to company leadership.
Charlotte Cook says her name and details of conversations about her time at BrewDog—which focused on workplace safety, problems with human resources, and the circumstances under which she left the company—were provided by [HR consultant] Wiser to BrewDog without her knowledge or consent.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Court upholds termination of employee for off-duty Facebook posts critical of Black Lives Matter

"Black lives" matter causes segregation. Have you ever hear[d] of "white lives" matter or "[J]ewish" lives matter[?] No. Equal opportunity.
That's what Heather McVey posted to her personal Facebook account in the wake of George Floyd's murder and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests.

An administrator of the hospital at which McVey worked as a nurse discovered her post, and, following an investigation the hospital fired her. Its stated reason was that "she posted on her social media a clearly racist dog whistle post, which was inconsistent with the vision and the mission and the core values of AtlantiCare."

Monday, May 23, 2022

Federal court holds that the NLRB doesn’t have a sense of humor

On June 6, 2019, unionized employees of Vox Media, a left-leaning digital media company, walked off the job during union contract negotiations. That same day, Ben Domenech, executive officer of FDRLST Media and publisher of The Federalist (which is the direct opposite of left-leaning), posted this tweet from his personal Twitter account: "FYI @fdrlst first one of you tries to unionize I swear I’ll send you back to the salt mine."

Following the filing of an unfair labor practice charge by someone with absolutely no relationship with FDRLST Media (employment or otherwise), the NLRB concluded that Domenech's tweet violated employees' rights to unionize or otherwise engage in protected concerted activity, agreeing with the administrative law judge that the tweet was an "obvious threat" that "working conditions would worsen or employee benefits would be jeopardized if employees attempted to unionize." 

Friday, May 20, 2022

WIRTW #626: the “seminar/webinar” edition

If you're located in Northeast Ohio and don't have our upcoming Wickens Workshop on your calendar, why not? I, along with two of my colleagues, will be tackling the key wage and hour issues facing your business. We'll be joined by Mark D'Agostino of ConnectedHR, who will moderate the panel discussion

Here are the details:
  • When: Thurs., June 9
  • Light Breakfast: 8 am
  • Program: 8:30 - 10 am
  • Location: Main Event Avon, 35605 Chester Road
  • Cost: Free
Space is limited. Register here by June 2.

If you're not in Northeast Ohio, or you're also looking for a virtual event to attend, on Wednesday, May 26, from 11a - noon, I'll be presenting the webinar Think Before You Click for HR Acuity, discussing the legal and practical impact of social media on your workplace. This webinar is also free. Register here. Bonus: HR Acuity will donate $10 for each person who registers to the Global Giving Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund and the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Here's what I read this past week that you should be reading, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Do we need labor unions anymore?

When I challenge the continued viability of labor unions and the lack of benefits they offer to or confer upon 21st century employees, this is the refrain I often hear.

Minimum wage ✔️
Overtime ✔️
OSHA ✔️  
Child labor protections ✔️
Anti-discrimination laws ✔️ 

None of those laws, I'm told, would exist without the historic efforts put forth by labor unions. 

You know what? That statement is 100 percent correct. Labor unions played a huge role in the passage of the FLSA, OSHA, ERISA, and Title VII, each of which granted a wealth of new rights and protections to employees.

They also help render labor unions irrelevant. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

How do you handle employees talking about “replacement theory” at work?

The "Great Replacement" is a conspiracy theory that certain leftist political forces are bringing non-whites into the United States and other Western countries to "replace" white voters to achieve their political agenda. It is often tied to anti-immigration groups and white supremacists. It's also the motivation that caused Payton Gendron to shoot 13 Black individuals in a Buffalo supermarket this past weekend, killing 10.

It's also way more mainstream than you might think or want to believe, with certain mainstream media outlets substituting its traditional racist and antisemitic underpinnings, including the use of terms of "white genocide" and "Jewish cabal," with a more politically focused narrative. Indeed, one in three Americans believe in "replacement theory."

How do you handle it if an employee complains that co-workers are promoting the Great Replacement? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Employers, your awful stereotypes in job ads aren’t cute or clever, they’re offensive and illegal

"Meet H&N's newest assistant brewer," the Instagram post began. How nice, a brewery advertising its female-friendly work environment. 
"She always has a smile on her face and never talks back!"

Uh oh! That took quite the turn, and not for the better.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Don’t ask employees about their problems after a union comes knocking

"I'm here to listen."

It's an innocuous enough statement for management to make to employees. What could possibly go wrong when a manager tells employees she's there to "listen"?

If a union representation petition is pending, the answer is a lot.