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Employment Law Update

A D.C. federal court has sustained the actions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which last year imposed a new requirement that employers post a notice to employees informing them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This new NLRB poster requirement was supposed to take effect as of November 14, 2011 but that deadline was later delayed until January 31, 2012 and then again delayed until April 30, 2012. The most recent delay resulted from the D.C. court’s request to postpone the effective date pending a legal challenge to the new requirement.  The court also concluded that the NLRB could not make an employer’s failure to post alone an unfair labor practice but rather the NLRB would have to show that the failure to post actually interfered with employee NLRA rights. If you want more information on the posting requirement, follow this link to the NLRB’s FAQ on this new posting requirement: https://www.nlrb.gov/faq/poster. A copy of the new poster is available both here: https://www.nlrb.gov/poster and here: https://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1562/employee_rights_fnl.pdf.

Court Clarifies FMLA Retaliation Rules

Another federal court in Atlanta, Georgia has issued a ruling clarifying the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation/interference protections. The court ruled that an employee who is not yet eligible for FMLA is still protected from retaliation for requesting leave at the time he/she becomes eligible in the future. The case involved a claim that an employer retaliated against an employee when it learned she was pregnant and would be taking FMLA leave several months later after she was eligible and when the baby was born.

Texting and Employment Litigation

I have been involved in several recent lawsuits where cell phone texts were part of the evidence and recently read a couple of new articles discussing how more and more employment lawsuits include texts as part of the evidence. Thus, perhaps it is a good time for a reminder that when an employer gets reasonable notice of a likely or filed claim, the employer must take steps to preserve all records (electronic or otherwise) and document its efforts to do so. This is called the Litigation Hold process. Essentially, a notice must be sent to all relevant records custodians (HR, supervisors, etc.) to preserve relevant records (which should be identified as much as possible—such as personnel records, payroll, etc. You should also involve the company’s IT department to preserve e-records (such as e-mail, and the computer of the involved employee) and to suspend any normal e-records purging. Failure to preserve such evidence can result in serious consequences, even in cases where the employer might have good defenses to the claim. Remember as you tell relevant persons to preserve relevant records, think about texts and include the same in your hold notices.

Spring Employment Law Reading

Need a break from spring cleaning? How about doing some springtime reading and taking in some timely employment law tips published recently? KSL.com and The Deseret News recently ran an interesting article on age discrimination, and they even let me chime in. You can read this article online on KSL.com at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1010&sid=19400098 and also at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865551785/Age-discrimination-a-growing-issue-in-a-difficult-economy.html. And Utah Business was kind enough to pick up an article I recently wrote about social media and employment law. Check it out at: http://www.utahbusiness.com/issues/articles/12150/2012/03/socialmediaand_employers__friends_or_enemies._

Michael Patrick O'Brien is an employment attorney with Utah law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough (www.joneswaldo.com). He also serves as the Legal and Legislative Director for Utah’s Society for Human Resource Management chapter. Contact him at 801-534-7315 or mobrien@joneswaldo.com.


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