Two of the area’s largest retail stores, Marshall’s and Big Lots, made news yesterday after being fined for violating Buffalo’s Ban the Box law, which prohibits employers from asking job applicants about past criminal history on employment applications. The law is meant to help those with criminal backgrounds apply for jobs without the risk of being immediately disqualified. HSE Labor and Employment Partner Amy Hemenway spoke with WGRZ Channel 2 and WBFO 88.7 about the law’s implications.
On November 16, 2015, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge issued a decision ordering Wingate Healthcare, Inc. to recognize and bargain with 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, after the union engaged in an unsuccessful organizing campaign at Wingate’s nursing home facility in Fishkill, New York. In sum, the Judge determined that Wingate engaged in unfair labor practices by, among other things, interrogating and threatening employees who supported the union, and conducting surveillance of employees’ union activities. Given the severe nature of the unfair labor practices, such as threats to employees, the Judge determined that a new election could not be freely and fairly conducted and issued the bargaining order. The full text of the decision can be found here.
On October 21, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision finding that Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille violated the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”) when it fired two employees for airing their criticisms on Facebook. This is the latest in a string of recent decisions finding that an employee’s online “speech” is protected concerted activity under the Act in some circumstances.
While significant attention has been paid to the Cuomo Administration’s decision to unilaterally increase the minimum wage for workers in the so-called “Fast Food” industry, New York employers must not lose sight of the following previously-enacted increases that will take effect on December 31, 2015:
President Obama raised the minimum wage and paid sick leave allowance for employees working under federal contracts and subcontracts. As these changes are due to take effect in 2016 and 2017, employers should begin preparing for them to avoid incurring liability for unpaid wages.