Labor Department Makes Changes to Previous Ruling

April 12, 2018|

Ed Enoch

There is a mixed bag of news for employers coming from a couple of different government agencies lately. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it is rolling back changes instituted during the Obama administration concerning employee handbooks.

The previous administration used a very broad interpretation of the law to strike down many provisions frequently found in employee handbooks, such as restrictions on employee postings on social media. Recently, the NLRB reversed that interpretation, with guidance about specific categories of rules ranging from always permissible to never permissible.

In another case, there was a very strange turn of events. The NLRB first overturned an earlier ruling concerning when two companies are considered joint employers, then a few weeks later flip-flopped back to the Obama-era interpretation.

This rule is particularly important to franchise businesses, as it is how opponents have worked to attack the franchise model in recent years.

The Department of Labor has also gotten into the act. The department recently announced a program to help employers fix problems they might have with employees who are misclassified for overtime pay purposes. In my experience, many small businesses have this problem and do not know it until somebody sues.

When that happens, it costs double the unpaid wages, and the company pays the employee’s attorney fees. So, this program is kind of a get-out-of-jail-free card — not something we typically expect from government agencies.

The big message here is that things are changing fast in the world of government regulations. Make sure you stay in touch with your business attorney so you keep up with the changes.

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