What a year, am I right or am I right? Here is a catalog of the major employment and labor law developments from 2011. And, just to keep it entertaining, I've started off each month with a weird but true off-topic story that was in the news that month. Many thanks to Drudge Report archives for the strange stuff. Thanks also to Esquire magazine's annual Dubious Achievement Awards (sadly, discontinued in 2008) and Dave Barry's Year in Review, both of which I am ripping off paying homage to.
Now, fix me a drink, will ya? We have a lot to talk about.
Ah-choo! Some teenage burglars stole an urn that contained the cremated remains of a man and two great Danes. The teens, obviously not criminal masterminds, snorted the ashes, believing them to be cocaine.
and . . .
"He*l, they're all disgruntled. I ain't runnin' no da*n daisy farm!" The EEOC reported that for fiscal year 2010 it received a record number of charges, and that retaliation charges surpassed race discrimination charges for the first time in history.
Express yourself. The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance on its "lactation accommodation" provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") and requested feedback from the public.
GINA: It's more than just a pretty name. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits the acquisition, use or disclosure of "genetic information," which includes family medical history information, took effect.
Nice family. I'd hate to see somet'ing happen to 'em, ya know? The Supreme Court held in Thompson v. North American Stainless that the Title VII anti-retaliation provisions extend to fiances and other significant others of the person who engages in legally protected activity.
and . . .
Another county heard from. (Or is it "country"?) Constangy, Brooks launched the most-excellent Employee Benefits Unplugged, which covers income tax, executive compensation, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, fiduciary compliance, and Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service audits. All of the attorneys in the firm's Employee Benefits Practice group contribute, but the Chief Blogmistress is Jewell Lim Esposito from the firm's Fairfax, Virginia office.
I hate to say "You can't make this stuff up," but you really can't make this stuff up. A New York man who had a court appearance on a DWI charge showed up with an open can of beer and (allegedy) was carrying a bag with four more cans of beer. The man, who had prior DWIs, was jailed with no bail.
and . . .
At the stroke of a pen, entire nation becomes disabled. The EEOC issued its Final Rule interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.
Make sure your "paws" know the laws. The U.S. Supreme Court found in Staub v. Proctor Hospital that an employer could be liable under a "cat's paw theory" for employment decisions that were influenced by a supervisor or other member of management who had an unlawful motive.
Study: Members of Congress give each other much less grief than they deserve. A Harvard professor conducted a study that concluded that members of Congress spent 27 percent of their time taunting each other.
and . . .
Life begins at Concepcion. The U.S. Supreme Court found in AT&T v. Concepcion that arbitration of class claims was ok and consistent with the policy underlying the Federal Arbitration Act. The Concepcion decision overruled the interpretation of the California courts that class claims could not be arbitrated.
OFCCP starts pilin' on. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a proposed rule regarding the obligations of federal contractors to recruit and hire veterans. Although the desire to help veterans is laudable, the rule would impose significant compliance burdens on federal contractors.
Nothing could be finah . . . The NLRB filed a complaint against Boeing Corporation for opening a production line in North Charleston, South Carolina, instead of the outskirts of Seattle, Washington, where most of its production was located. The Board alleged that the move to right-to-work South Carolina was the company's unlawful attempt to avoid dealing with the International Association of Machinists, which had carried on a number of strikes at the Washington State facility over the years.
Cannibal Lecter. A man ran an internet ad seeking someone "who would agree to be killed, cooked, and eaten." A Swiss man answered the ad, thinking it was just a fantasy game, but after talking with the "cannibal" on the phone, determined that he was deadly serious. (Tehe. Get it?) The would-be "meal" called the police, who answered the ad undercover and foiled the banquet.
and . . .
"I'm a victim of soicumstance!" (Probably true.) Bruce Raynor, President of the Workers United affiliate of the Service Employees International Union and International Executive Vice President of the SEIU, was forced out of both positions after being charged with filing misleading expense reports. Raynor, a labor leader for 38 years and who had been president of UNITE and UNITE HERE for eight years before joining Workers United, contended that he was a victim of SEIU politics.
Kiss our apps! The U.S. Department of Labor launched its wage and hour recordkeeping app (at link, scroll down to "Email your timesheets directly to Big Brother!") for iPhones and iPods, with a promise to develop counterparts for Androids and Blackberrys.
Labor pains. The NLRB sued the state of Arizona over a constitutional amendment that protected the right of employees to have secret ballots in union representation elections. The Board contends that state constitutional amendments like Arizona's are preempted by the NLRB. It has also sued the state of South Dakota for the same reason.
Your money, or your life. The OFCCP proposed changing the scheduling letter that it sends to federal contractors who are being audited. The changes would require contractors to provide detailed, individualized information about employees' compensation, among other proposed changes.