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Showing 29 posts in Litigation.

Employment Law Cases To Watch During U.S. Supreme Court's New Term

The Supreme Court of the United States began its new term on Monday, October 6, 2014. Typically, the Court hears between 60-70 oral arguments per year and reviews approximately another 50-60 more cases on briefs alone. This year, there are two significant employment discrimination cases on the docket.Gavel on court desk More >

EEOC Sues Companies for Transgender Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has just filed suit against two companies for alleged discrimination against transgendered employees. The suits were filed separately in Florida and Michigan, against Lakeland Eye Clinic and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., respectively. In both cases, employees alleged that they were fired after they disclosed they were undergoing gender transitions.

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Part II: What Is A “Micro-Unit” – and Why Does It Matter?

Earlier this week, the standard established by the NLRB in Specialty Healthcare was discussed. As a quick review, the Specialty Healthcare decision made it easier for small collective bargaining groups known as “micro-units” to form in the workplace. These micro-units are easier to unionize, and the employer is left with the burden of showing why excluded employees of the proposed unit should be included. Specialty Healthcare was decided by the NLRB in 2011 and affirmed by the Sixth Circuit in 2013, but it was not until this summer that employers learned how the NLRB would apply this decision to other industries. More >

“Do You Want Liability With That?” The NLRB McDonald’s Decision that could undermine the Franchise Business Model (Part II)

Monday’s post discussed the decision of NLRB’s General Counsel to hold McDonald’s Corp. jointly responsible with its franchise owners for workers’ labor complaints. The decision, if allowed to stand, could shake up the decades-old fast-food franchise system, but it does not stop there. The joint employer doctrine can be applied not only to fast food franchises and franchise arrangements in other industries, but also to other employment arrangements, such as subcontracting or outsourcing.

This decision could also impact the pricing of goods and services, as franchisors would likely need to up costs to offset the new potential liability. Everything from taxes to Affordable Care Act requirements could be affected if the decision stands.

If you are a franchisor and are currently in what could be determined to be a joint employer relationship, consider taking steps to further separate and distinguish your role from that of your franchisee. While franchisors should always take reasonable measures to ensure that franchisees are in compliance with applicable federal and state employment laws, they should take care to not wield such force over them to give the appearance of a joint-employer relationship.

We will be following the NLRB decision and keep you updated as the issue progresses.

Luke Wingfield

Luke A. Wingfield is an associate with McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Wingfield concentrates his practice in employment law, insurance defense, litigation and administrative law. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at lwingfield@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780. 

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice

“Do You Want Liability With That?” The NLRB McDonald’s Decision that could undermine the Franchise Business Model

On July 29, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) General Counsel authorized NLRB Regional Directors to name McDonald’s Corp. as a joint employer in several complaints regarding worker rights at franchise-owned restaurants. Joint employer liability means that the non-employer (McDonald’s Corp.) can be held responsible for labor violations to the same extent as the worker’s “W-2” employer.

In the U.S., the overwhelming majority of the 14,000 McDonald's restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees (as is the case with most other fast-food chains). The franchise model is predicated on the assumption that the franchisee is an independent contractor – not an employee of the franchisor. Generally, the franchisor owns a system for operating a business and agrees to license a bundle of intellectual property to the franchisee so long as on the franchisee adheres to prescribed operating standards and pays franchise fees. Franchisees have the freedom to make personnel decisions and control their operating costs.

Many third parties and pro-union advocates have long sought to hold franchisors responsible for the acts or omissions of franchisees – arguing that franchisors maintain strict control on day-to-day operations and regulate almost all aspects of a franchisee's operations, from employee training to store design. Their argument is that the franchise model allows the corporations to control the parts of the business it cares about at its franchises, while escaping liability for labor and wage violations.

The NLRB has investigated 181 cases of unlawful labor practices at McDonald’s franchise restaurants since 2012. The NLRB has found sufficient merit in at least 43 cases. Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources for McDonald’s USA, called the NLRB’s decision a “radical departure” and something that “should be a concern to businessmen and women across the country.” Indeed it is, but it is important to note that General Counsel's decision is not the same as a binding NLRB ruling and that it will be a long time before this issue is resolved, as McDonald’s Corp. will no doubt appeal any rulings.

For more about the potential effects of this decision, check back on Wednesday.

Luke Wingfield

Luke A. Wingfield is an associate with McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Wingfield concentrates his practice in employment law, insurance defense, litigation and administrative law. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at lwingfield@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780. 

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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“STOP”: Four Tips For Document Preservation When Facing Potential Litigation

Posted In Crisis Management, Employment Law, Litigation

In today’s digital environment, it is crucial that employers act fast when faced with a suit (or the threat of suit) by an employee or ex-employee. When potential litigation is on the horizon, the first step should always be to contact legal counsel. The next step should protecting documentation that might be relevant to the dispute. Keep in mind this acronym to make sure you are following that right steps for documentation preservation:

Search for employees that might possess information pertaining to the dispute. This might include supervisors, managers, or people who shared a workspace with the claimant, but it might also include others not under the direct supervision of the company, such as independent contractors or consultants that worked with the claimant.

Think about all sources of information – smart phones, tablets, cloud-based servers, thumb drives, work email accounts, etc. Once the sources are identified, consider whether you have and can maintain access to them. In some cases, it may require notifying the claimant that he must turn over password information or relinquish his work-issued devices, but it is highly suggested you contact legal counsel before proceeding with this step.

Order a litigation hold on relevant information. Instruct employees to not destruct, forward or edit the relevant documentation in any way. In-house destruction procedures (such as shredding or the automatic email deletion) should be cancelled until further notice from counsel. Litigation hold instructions should be made in writing and provide explicit instructions. The instructions should identify the type of materials and date ranges that are subject to the hold. A litigation hold should also identify to whom questions or concerns about the hold can be directed.

Present all information to counsel. He or she will then determine exactly what information needs to be preserved and for how long. Do not think that you, as an employer, know what information is important. By getting rid of documentation, even without ill intent, you may be hurting your ability to present a defense to the claims.

Stop Sign Hand

No employer likes facing employee-related litigation, but it is important to “STOP” and take time to ensure document preservation in the wake or threat of a suit.

Ben Riddle

Benjamin L. Riddle is an associate in the Louisville, Kentucky office. Mr. Riddle is a member of the firm’s Litigation team, where he focuses his practice on employment law, commercial disputes and personal injury matters. Mr. Riddle can be reached at (502) 327-5400, ext. 305 or briddle@mmlk.com

This article is intended as a summary of newly enacted federal law and does not constitute legal advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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US Supreme Court Will Review Important Case Affecting Pregnant Workers, Part II

On Monday, details about the case Young v. UPS were discussed. Young was a part-time UPS driver who, after becoming unable to lift heavy packages due to her pregnancy, was denied her request for light duty. She alleges that UPS violated the law by failing to provide her the same accommodations as it provided to nonpregnant employees with physical disabilities who were similar in their ability to work. After the District Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals both found for UPS, Young petitioned filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. UPS, however, responded to the petition with an argument that the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) could render the case moot.  The actions that led to the suit occurred in 2006 – before the amendments to the ADA were made. More >

US Supreme Court Will Review Important Case Affecting Pregnant Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court has just agreed to review Young v. UPS, a decision that will determine whether and to what extent an employer must provide pregnant employees with work accommodations, such as light duty, that are given to other workers with disabilities.

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U.S. Supreme Court Gives Increased Protection to Government Employees

The Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously that government employees who testify about public corruption are protected by the First Amendment. The case, Lane v. Franks, [1]centered on a public employee, Lane, who worked at an Alabama community college where he led the school’s program for at-risk youth.

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An Important New Decision Affects Non-Compete Agreements in Kentucky

The Kentucky Supreme Court recently reversed the Kentucky Court of Appeals’ holding in Creech, Inc. v. Brown, and declared that continued employment, standing alone, is no longer sufficient consideration to justify or support enforcement of a non-competition agreement. In the course of reaching its decision, the Court clarified prior case law dealing with the issue of whether non-competition agreements may be executed in exchange for merely retaining one’s job. While the case has an intricate and complex set of facts, this post focuses on the consideration requirement only. More >

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