National Labor Relations Act

On October 28, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) again held that employers violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when they require employees to sign class action waivers as a condition of their employment.  The Board first so held in D.R. Horton, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 184 (Jan. 3, 2012).  Although numerous courts have since rejected the Board’s reasoning in D.R. Horton, the Board nonetheless reaffirmed its position, meaning that employers who maintain such agreements will continue to face significant hurdles to their enforcement.

In Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 72 (Oct. 28, 2014), the employer (“Murphy Oil”) required, as a condition of employment, that all employees sign a Binding Arbitration Agreement and Waiver of Jury Trial (the “Agreement”).  The agreement specifically provided:

Continue Reading NLRB Won’t Budge on Class Action Waivers: Finds that Murphy Oil’s Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Violate the NLRA

Readers of our series of posts on D.R. Horton will recall our prediction that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) would continue its attacks on certain arbitration agreements.  As predicted, the NLRB’s administrative law judges (ALJ) continue to strike down any arbitration agreements that waive class or collective action claims and allow arbitration of only individual claims.  The ALJs consistently find that such agreements violate employees’ Section 7 rights to engage in protected concerted activity.
Continue Reading Delay in Supreme Court Review of D.R. Horton Continues to Cost Employers Enforcing Arbitration Agreements

In a split decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the view of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board). According to the Court’s majority opinion, an arbitration agreement that requires employees to arbitrate all employment disputes but restricts the arbitration proceedings to individual arbitrations only (i.e., not allowing class or collective arbitrations) does not violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. D. R. Horton v. National Labor Relations Board (December 3, 2013). The Board is considering an appeal.

Why is this important?
Continue Reading NLRB Loses Appeal in D.R. Horton: Arbitration Agreements Can Require Only Individual Arbitration, But …

As a matter of federal law, employers can require employees to agree to arbitrate any employment dispute.  But, can that arbitration agreement force an employee to arbitrate only individual claims, not class (or collective) claims?  Recently, the National Labor Relations Board said NOClick here for the Board’s ruling.

This ruling appears at odds with a ruling by the United States Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Conception.  There, the Supreme Court considered a California state law that invalidated any arbitration agreement that included a mandatory waiver of class claims.  The Supreme Court noted that the right to pursue class claims is a procedural right, not statutory, and overturned the California law.  Some employers then adopted arbitration agreements that included waivers of an employee’s ability to pursue class or collective actions. 
Continue Reading Labor Board Rules that Arbitration Agreements Forbidding Class Arbitration is Unlawful

Social media sitesThe NLRB’s Division of Advice recently issued memoranda in several different cases, showing that not all activity by employees on social media sites constitute protected activity.  These reports show that the Labor Board, like many employers, struggle with what is “protected concerted activity” – and thus protected from any employer discipline – and what are mere individual gripes – and most likely not protected.

The NLRB’s attempt to provide guidance in these memoranda does show the Labor Board’s adoption of a more realistic view of what is protected activity on social media than some had feared (and more realistic than some critics had charged).  In short, “protected concerted activity” even on social media must show more than an individual employee’s private complaint or gripe about her/his employer. The employee must be expressing group complaints (acting “with or on the authority of” other employees) and generally must be interacting with employees in such expression. Forbes.com posted a good article illustrating the differences. In one instance, the NLRB even examined whether a particular employee’s Facebook wall included ‘friends’ who were co-workers.
Continue Reading Labor Board Report Shows Its Struggles with the Realities of Social Media