Labor Unions Attempt to Use DOL and OSHA Enforcement as Organizing Tactic

By:  Kara M. Maciel, Eric J. Conn & Lindsay A. DiSalvo

As the private sector continues to see a decline in labor union membership among employees, labor unions are struggling to remain relevant and recruit new, dues-paying members.  Traditionally, when a labor union begins an organizing campaign at a workplace, the federal agency that is the typical focal point is the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), whose purpose is to protect the right of workers to organize and to freely choose whether or not to be represented by a labor union.  Indeed, the NLRB is an intrinsic part of the election process, and the NLRB may also become involved in a union organizing campaign if, for instance, the union asserts that the employer has committed an unfair labor practice.  However, unions have also engaged with or depended on the regulations of other federal agencies as a tactic to gain leverage in organizing campaigns.  There are a number of ways a union may influence the outcome of an organizing campaign by using federal agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) or the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the Department of Labor (“DOL”), to persuade employees or put pressure on employers to concede to union representation.

Taking OSHA as an example, an inspection or the threat of an inspection can impact an organizing campaign in a manner favorable for the union.  The threat of making an OSHA complaint or of an OSHA inspection could put pressure on an employer to stand-down against a union’s organizing efforts, even if it does not believe a particular violative condition or safety hazard exists.  A safety complaint could spark an OSHA inspection and, with about 75% of OSHA inspections resulting in the issuance of at least one citation, the chances are high that the employer would have an OSHA enforcement action on its hands. Continue reading

Cal/OSHA’s Workplace Violence Rules for Health Care Take Effect April 2017

By Andrew J. Sommer and Eric J. Conn

Effective April 1, 2017, a new California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Standards Board”) regulation at Title 8, Section 3342 requires certain employers in the health care industry to develop and implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan.  The passage of these regulations came after nearly two years of meeting and work within the Agency, and more than two years after the California legislature passed Senate Bill 1299, which instructed the Standards Board to implement these workplace violence regulations.

Rules Apply to Health Care Facilities

Senate Bill 1299 only directed the Standards Board to adopt regulations requiring licensed hospitals to adopt violence prevention plans to protect health care workers and other facility personnel from aggressive and violent behavior.  The regulations that were adopted by the Standards Board, however, apply not just to licensed hospitals, but more broadly to any “health facility,” defined as:

“any facility, place or building that is organized, maintained, and operated for diagnosis, care, prevention or treatment of human illness, physical or mental…to which [] persons are admitted for a 24-hour stay or longer.”

Additionally, the regulations apply to the following facilities regardless of their size or how long a patient stays there:

  1. Home health care and home-based hospice;
  2. Emergency medical services and medical transport, including services provided by firefighters and other emergency responders;
  3. Drug treatment programs;
  4. Outpatient medical services to the incarcerated in correctional and detention settings.

Immediate Requirement to Begin Reporting Violent Incidents

Beginning April 1, 2017, every general acute care hospital, acute psychiatric hospital and special hospital generally must report to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) any incident involving either of the following:

Continue reading

Trump Proposes a $2.5 Billion Cut to the Dept. of Labor’s Budget and to Eliminate Funding for Labor Initiatives and the Chemical Safety Board

By Kara M. Maciel and Eric J. Conn

The Trump Administration submitted a blueprint budget for 2018 to Congress proposing $2.5 Billion in cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) operating budget.  The President’s proposed budget expressly calls for reduced funding for grant programs, job Budget 1training programs for seniors and disadvantaged youth, and support for international labor efforts.  It also proposes to entirely defund and eliminate the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”) – an independent, federal, non-enforcement agency that investigates chemical accidents at fixed facilities.  The budget plan also purports to shift more funding responsibility to the states with labor related programs.  Finally, although less explicit, the budget blueprint appears to deliver on promises from Trump’s campaign trail that rulemaking and regulatory enforcement efforts under the myriad laws and regulations enforced by the sub-agencies, such as the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA would be slashed.

These proposed budget cuts at DOL and other agencies are all part of a plan to offset the White House’s intent to increase defense and security spending by $54 billion.  Overall, Trump requested $1.065 Trillion in total discretionary spending, with $603 billion going to Defense.

The proposal would shrink DOL’s budget to $9.6 Billion – down 21% from the $12.2 Billion budget for 2017. Trump’s planned reductions announced on March 16, 2017 – while not really surprising in the context of his view toward federal spending on non-defense agencies – would have a seismic impact Continue reading

Kara Maciel to Speak at HR in Hospitality Conference

main_hosp.jpgThe annual HR in Hospitality Conference, which is a leading conference that has content tailored to meet HR professionals’ needs to stay up to day on the latest legal issues facing the hospitality industry, will be held in Las Vegas on March 27 – 29, 2017.

Kara Maciel, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice, is pleased to be speaking on a panel with other industry experts to discuss the top “50 Legal Tips in 50 Minutes.”  The panel will occur on March 28, 2017 from 4-5 pm, and will discuss the new Trump Administration, and what legislative and regulatory policies will change, what policies cannot change, what policies may change, and what to expect at the state law level.

All HR professionals in the hospitality industry will benefit from this conference, and as a friend of Conn Maciel Carey, you can register with a $100.00 discount off registration by clicking here.

We hope to see you in Vegas!

Andrew J. Sommer to Speak at IHRSA 2017 on Employment Law Issues for Health Clubs

IHRSA_2017_header_logoAndrew J. Sommer, Partner in Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s San Francisco office, will be presenting on March 9, 2017 in Los Angeles at the annual conference of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a trade association serving the global health club and fitness industry.  Mr. Sommer will speak on hot topics in employment law and practical compliance strategies for clubs.  For more information about IHRSA 2017, please click here.

Trump Taps Alex Acosta for New Department of Labor Secretary

Department of LaborAs readers of this blog are aware, President Trump originally chose Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as his Secretary of Labor.  However, on February 15, 2017, one day prior to his confirmation hearing, Mr. Puzder withdrew his name from consideration amidst reports that he would not receive the required Senate votes necessary for confirmation based in part on allegations that he failed to pay workers overtime pay, condoned sexual harassment, and opposed legislative efforts to address those problems.  The next day, President Trump officially tapped former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta for the position.  As Labor Secretary, Acosta will oversee the federal apparatus that investigates violations of minimum wage, overtime and workplace safety laws and regulations.

If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Hispanic member of President Trump’s cabinet.  Mr. Acosta has a strong background in public service.  After graduating from Harvard Law School, he clerked for Judge (now Supreme Court Justice) Samuel Alito on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  He has also served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (both of which he was appointed to by President George W. Bush), and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.  Most recently, Acosta served as Dean of the Florida International University School of Law.  Should he be confirmed, Acosta’s public and private experiences (he also practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis) should enable him to take into account numerous perspectives in his new role.

At this stage, Acosta’s views on various pressing issues at the Department of Labor — such as Continue reading

HR Issues for Start-Ups and Small Businesses

On Wednesday, February 15, 2017, Kara Maciel, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice at Conn Maciel Carey, will be presenting a free webinar on issues facing small business.

While large companies typically have human resources departments or in-house counsel to advise on myriad and complex employment laws, start-ups and small businesses are often operating in the dark regarding these key issues.  However, as these companies grow and begin to hire more employees, compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws are paramount for survival.

This webinar will provide an overview of the most important employment laws, policies and practices that are of particular concern for small businesses and start-ups so that they can comply with proper pay practices and wage and hour law, become aware of applicable anti-discrimination laws, and learn proper procedures for hiring and firing, including offer letters, employment agreements and separation agreements.

The webinar begins at 1:00 pm ET, and is sponsored by Smith College.  You can register for the webinar here.  If you are unable to attend the February webinar, Conn Maciel Carey will present another opportunity on April 19, 2017 as part of its 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series, and you can register here.