Navigating Non-Disparagement and Confidentiality Clauses: NLRB General Counsel Provides Additional Insight on Severance Agreements

Over the past three months, the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) has more actively scrutinized the use of severance agreements that contain confidentiality clauses which might prevent employees from sharing information about their terms of employment. This was particularly evident in the Board’s recent decision in McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58 (2023), which we wrote about here. In McLaren Macomb, the Board ruled that that overly broad non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions included in severance agreements offered to certain employees violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (the Act).

The Board’s General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, provided further clarification on the meaning of McLaren Macomb in a memorandum that was issued on March 22, 2023.  Below are the most important takeaways from that memorandum.

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OSHA Expands Its Investigative Authority Under the Whistleblower Protection Program through U and T Visa Certifications

By Kara Maciel, Eric J. Conn, and Darius Rohani-Shukla

OSHA has unveiled another tool that will enhance its ability to investigate potential workplace safety violations affecting vulnerable workers who are victims of criminal activity, including sex and labor trafficking. Effective March 30, 2023, OSHA can now issue an important certification used to support two nonimmigrant visas, the U and T visas, that grant individuals immigration status when working with officials during criminal investigations and proceedings. Immigration,Document.,3d,IllustrationBoth the U visa and T visa were created in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and are intended to provide undocumented workers or workers whose immigration status depends on their employer with the opportunity to report qualifying criminal activity (QCA) without jeopardizing their immigration status and/or risking retaliation by their employer. Now, OSHA can provide support to the visa applications of workers who bring forward credible allegations of a violation of a law that OSHA enforces, in situations where OSHA has detected specific QCA.

OSHA does not have the authority to issue U and T visas themselves. Rather, these visas are issued by Continue reading

Conn Maciel Carey Submits Comments to the FTC Urging it to Revise the Proposed Rule Banning Non-Compete Clauses

On April 19, 2023, Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s Labor & Employment partners, Kara Maciel and Jordan Schwartz, submitted public comments on behalf of a diverse coalition of employers urging the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to revise its Proposed Rule banning non-competition clauses.  While we believe that the FTC does not have legal authority to promulgate the Proposed Rule in its current form, the coalition’s comments focused on three problematic portions of the Proposed Rule and proposed the FTC revise it in three primary respects: Continue reading

Pay Transparency Laws and New State Laws re: Non-Compete Agreements [Webinar Recording]

On Thursday, April 20, 2023, Daniel Deacon and Samuel Rose presented a webinar regarding Pay Transparency Laws and New State Laws re: Non-Compete Agreements.

Pay transparency laws have taken the country by storm. In December 2021, New York City Council passed a pay transparency measure that went into effect in November 2022. California passed a similar law that went into effect in January 2023. The trend will likely spread to other states across the country. This webinar explained the laws, compliance challenges, and some tips to make compliance easier. It also covered a general overview of new state laws regarding non-compete agreements, including the District of Columbia’s Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act, which went into effect in October 2022.

Participants in the webinar learned: Continue reading

The Current Landscape of Employer Liability for Supervisor Sexual Harassment under California’s FEHA

By Samuel S. Rose

The California Court of Appeal has once again weighed in on employer liability for a supervisor’s sexual harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act through its decision in Atalla v. Rite Aid Corporation (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 294.

In Atalla, Plaintiff and a district manager for Rite Aid had developed a years-long friendship prior to Plaintiff joining Rite Aid as a staff pharmacist. The friendship began in 2017 and Plaintiff began employment at Rite Aid in 2018. The district manager supervised staff pharmacists. Plaintiff and the district manager had frequently and consistently engaged in conversation over text message regarding a variety of topics, including vacations, family, personal matters, and work.

In 2019, during a late-night text message conversation, the district manager sent an inappropriate photo to Plaintiff. The district manager sent a text message about being drunk and that he meant to send the photo to his wife. Plaintiff deleted the photo and the text. The district manager then sent another inappropriate photo and Plaintiff sent a text asking him to stop.

The trial court granted Rite Aid’s summary judgment motion. In affirming the trial court’s ruling, the Court noted that Plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact that the district manager was acting as a supervisor during the text exchange. The Court noted that Plaintiff and the district manager had a prior texting relationship, and the photos were sent as a result of that personal relationship. It also pointed out that the texts occurred outside of the workplace and well after working hours.

The Court notes that its decision is consistent with the current landscape of the law on point. It points to the following four cases, which we have listed with a brief discussion of their facts and holdings. Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court Will Decide Whether an ADA Plaintiff Must Allege an Intent to Visit a Property to Establish Standing

This past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging a disabled woman’s claim that she has legal standing to bring a lawsuit against a Maine hotel company for violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) even though she does not plan to visit its hotel in the future.  Black,Disability,Wheelchair,,With,Ancient,Pillars,As,Background,,3d,RenderingThe outcome of this case will be crucial for all places of public accommodations, even those outside the hotel context, such as restaurants, stores, and other retail establishments.  Indeed, this case has the potential to determine whether it becomes significantly easier or more difficult for plaintiffs to bring viable ADA lawsuits against any type of company whose business is open to the public, regardless as to whether the allegations relate to websites or more traditional “brick and mortar” barriers to access.

This case began in 2020 when Deborah Laufer, an individual who uses a wheelchair, brought a lawsuit against Acheson Hotels, a hotel company that operates the Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Maine, alleging that Acheson’s website failed to identify accessible rooms, failed to provide an option for booking an accessible room, and failed to provide sufficient information to determine whether any of the guest rooms were accessible, in violation of Title III of the ADA.  As you may recall from our prior blog post, Ms. Laufer is a prolific ADA tester/serial plaintiff who has filed more than 600 lawsuits against hotels and other places of lodging.  Aside from the name of the property she is suing, Ms. Laufer’s lawsuits are virtually identical; they allege that a hotel or other place of lodging has violated the ADA because its website and/or third-party online reservation website (such as Expedia) purportedly fails to sufficiently identify the accessible features of the hotel, as required by the ADA regulations. Continue reading

CMC Spotlight Series: Meet Mark Trapp!

As a Partner in Conn Maciel Carey’s Chicago office, Mark Trapp specializes in labor and employment law with our Employment Practice Group.  He arbitrates, litigates, and advises clients on multiemployer pension funds and withdrawal liability issues, as well as labor relations, union elections, and collective bargaining. He also handles various types of employment litigation and grievance arbitrations. Between 2014 and 2017, Mark was recommended in the Labor-Management Relations category by The Legal 500 United States and has been selected to Super Lawyers from 2020 to 2023.

Get to Know Mark!

Mark FamilyWhere is your favorite vacation spot?

My family doesn’t have one specific favorite. My wife is from Mexico, so we celebrate each daughter’s quinceañera—a traditional celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday. But instead of having the usual party, we decided to let them choose anywhere they wanted to go and make it a special trip just for them. So far, we’ve had three daughters reach that milestone. We’ve traveled to London and Hawaii, and we enjoyed a Disney cruise. Our youngest daughter is approaching 15, and we can’t wait to see what she chooses. She’s leaning toward Alaska, but she’s not sure.

We’ve also been camping in Gettysburg many times, including during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. It’s a great place for hiking and history.

What was your first job? Continue reading

Tipping the Balance: Why Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is Essential for Employers under the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act

The Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act (TWWFAA) is a law that was passed in Washington, D.C. in 2018 to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers. One important aspect of the TWWFAA is its focus on addressing sexual harassment in the workplace through mandatory training for employees and employers.

As an employer of tipped workers, it’s important to understand your responsibilities under the TWWFAA in regards to sexual harassment prevention training. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that is crucial for employers to take steps to prevent it in the workplace.

Under the TWWFAA, all employers of tipped workers in D.C. are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees. This training must be provided at least once every two years and must be interactive, meaning that employees must be able to ask questions and receive answers during the training.

Employers have a timeline of one year from the effective date of the law to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees. This means that employers must ensure that all of their tipped workers receive the required training within one year of the law’s effective date.

In addition to requiring employers to provide training, the TWWFAA also mandates that managers and supervisors of tipped workers receive additional sexual harassment prevention training.

Training Requirements
Covered IndividualsTraining PlatformFrequency
ManagerMust complete live in-person training.Every 2 years
Owner or operatorMust complete training either live in- person or online.Every 2 years
EmployeeMust complete training either live in- person or online.Every 2 years
New EmployeeMust complete training either live in- person or online.No later than 90 days after hire, unless the employee received the training within the past 2 years.

These provisions of the TWWFAA are important for several reasons. First and foremost, they help to create a safer and more respectful workplace for tipped workers. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for those who experience it, including emotional distress, lost income, and career setbacks.

By requiring employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training and to ensure that managers and supervisors receive additional training, the TWWFAA helps to ensure that all levels of the workplace are equipped to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. This can help to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace and create a more respectful and inclusive work environment.

Employers should also note that failure to comply with the sexual harassment prevention training requirements of the TWWFAA can result in penalties and fines. Therefore, it is important for employers to ensure that they are in compliance with the law and that they provide the required training to their employees and managers within the specified timelines.

Overall, the TWWFA is an important piece of legislation that addresses several issues related to the treatment of tipped workers. By including provisions related to sexual harassment prevention training, the TWWFAA helps to create safer and more respectful workplaces for tipped workers in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

Emerging Trend in Compensation Equity: Pay Transparency Laws

The federal government and individual states have prohibited inequity in compensation based on protected categories such as sex, race, ethnicity, and many others for decades under general anti-discrimination laws. For instance, at the federal level, it is impermissible to pay someone less because of their sex under the Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be paid equally for equal work. More broadly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discriminating against someone in the terms and conditions of employment, including pay, based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. And many states have similar laws with more extensive applicability and additional protected categories. However, it is only more recently that the discussion regarding pay inequity has moved to the foreground propelled by national social movements such as the MeToo and BlackLivesMatter movements, among others. With this more recent discourse around pay equity, there have also been some accompanying changes in the law, including a number of cities and states adopting pay transparency laws that give broader, more public access to pay information.

What are Pay Transparency Laws

Pay transparency laws generally require that employers disclose specific pay information to applicants, such as the wage, salary range, or pay scale for the position. The timing of such disclosures, the context in which such disclosures are required to be made, and the content of such disclosures varies depending on the state or local law. The goal of these laws is to more effectively address existing wage gaps and prevent against future wage gaps by providing greater openness and standardization of the salary range for a specific position no matter the applicant. Indeed, per recent earnings data at the end of 2022, White women earned about 83% percent as much as their White male counterparts while Black men earned about 79.6% of the median income of White men, among several other gaps identified based on sex, race, ethnicity, and age, per data collected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Traditionally, specific employee salaries have been a subject treated as private information, not broadly shared or discussed. However, pay transparency laws require that this information be proactively provided, often through the actual job posting or at least some time during the application process upon an offer being made or by request of the applicant. Pay transparency laws also frequently go hand in hand with limitations on the information an employer can obtain about an applicant’s own pay history to avoid the potential of perpetuating a pay gap by using that information to determine current compensation.

Most Recent States that Have Adopted Pay Transparency Laws

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[Webinar] Navigating the New Normal: Remote Work Challenges

On Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 1 p.m. EST, join Dan Deacon and Darius Rohani-Shukla for a webinar regarding Navigating the New Normal: Remote Work Challenges.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a significant surge in remote work nationwide, allowing more and more employees to work from their homes or some other location locally or in a completely different state from the employer’s brick and mortar location. This has created significant employment hurdles for employers because remote employees are generally subject to the laws of the city and state where they are physically located and perform work. Depending on state law and conflict of law principles, there may be exceptions for employees who are temporarily located in a state or not considered “based” within a state. But certainly for those who intend to continue to work from a different state on a more long-term basis, its likely that a particular state’s laws could apply.

And the challenges created by remote work are ones that are unlikely to disappear any time soon. Statistical projections show that by the end of 2022 remote work will make up about 25% of all jobs in North America. Notably, in 2021, about 67% of white-collar workers worked either partially or exclusively from home and almost 98% of remote workers surveyed said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.

This desire to work remotely combined with the challenges in hiring and retaining workers that many employers are experiencing, makes it likely that employers will have to continue to grapple with if and how to incorporate remote work into their current structure, including how to effectively monitor employee performance and the employment laws that may be triggered related to this unique work environment.

Participants in this webinar will learn: Continue reading