On June 30, 2021, Washington State officially reopened, thanks to the progress made in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. By “reopen” we mean the return of industry sectors to normal capacity and operation under Governor Jay Inslee’s Washington Ready plan.
On November 5, 2020, the Washington Supreme Court struck down the overtime exemption for dairy workers in Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Brothers Dairy. The decision upended the expectations of dairy farm employers based on the historical exemption for agricultural workers that had been in place for nearly a half-century. The court’s decision has far-reaching implications for agricultural employers from dairy farmers to winegrowers and everyone in between. Although the court’s decision only addressed overtime exemptions for dairy workers, agricultural employers have been understandably concerned about the uncertainty caused by Martinez. Much of the court’s reasoning regarding why dairy workers are entitled to overtime pay could be extended to other agricultural workers.
As more and more Americans become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, many Employers are wrestling with a number of questions regarding how to most effectively get as many of their personnel vaccinated as possible. We previously looked at the circumstances in which an employer can require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but what if your company would rather incentivize employees to get the vaccine, instead of requiring it?
Many employers are considering whether they can or should require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available. Distribution and availability of the vaccine is such that the general public does not yet have access to it, but employers should begin considering how they want to address this issue.
As remote work options become more common, employees are increasingly seeking telecommuting accommodations for disabilities. Whether remote work arrangements constitute a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) depends on the circumstances. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Law, in the past two years, employers challenging remote work accommodations in court have prevailed approximately 70% of the time. However, the courts also recognize that each accommodation request for telecommuting must be independently analyzed on the specific facts at issue.
In July 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a consent decree involving claims of disability discrimination against a metal products manufacturer. According to the EEOC, this manufacturer violated the law when it: 1) awarded attendance points to employees regardless of the reason for absence, and 2) automatically terminated employees who did not return to work after taking extended leave.
On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued one of the most anticipated decisions of the year, ruling that nonunion workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public-sector unions. In the Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council (“AFSCME”) case, Illinois state employee Mark Janus challenged the $45 monthly fee he paid to the public-sector AFSCME union. Janus was not a member of the AFSCME union. However, public-sector employees who declined to join a public-sector union were still required to pay an “agency fee” instead of full union dues. The “agency fee” could only cover collective bargaining costs, and not political advocacy costs. The United States Supreme Court previously upheld the payment of such “agency fees” as constitutional in the 1977 Abood case.
Over the last several years, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has issued several decisions overturning employer discipline for employee conduct on social media. In a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court upheld the NLRB’s decision and ordered reinstatement for employees who posted a profane comment and approved an offensive post about their employer. This appeals court decision contains some important warnings for employers who are considering discipline for employees’ negative social media conduct.