Tag Archive: Labor and Employment Law

Mar 30

Title VII at 50 Symposium – THIS WEEK!

The Center for Labor and Employment and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society would like to invite any interested students or colleagues to the Title VII at 50 Symposium Conference, which takes place this week on April 4 and 5, 2014.

This program is presented in conjunction with the St. John’s Law Review, the Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the St. John’s Journal of International and Comparative Law, the NYU Center for Labor and Employment Law, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development, and the St. John’s Center of International and Comparative Law.

This two-day symposium commemorates Title VII and featuring panelists and speakers who will assess the past, present and future of Title VII. Please see the attached program for the events schedule and speakers.

This is an amazing learning and networking opportunity for those interested in labor or employment law, and we encourage any interested party to attend. Please feel free to distribute the program and this email to any groups you are a member of. Scholarships and prizes will be awarded at this event.

The conference is free of charge and open to all, but please RSVP to Paula Edwards at (718) 990-6653 or clel@stjohns.edu.

We hope to see you in attendance at one or both days of the conference.

More Information: http://www.stjohns.edu/about/events/school-law-title-vii-50-two-day-symposium
Program – Title VII at 50 Symposium – 3-27-14

Feb 20

What’s New With the CLEL – Spring Update

The Center for Labor and Employment works closely with the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society at St. John’s. The LRELS is the student-run arm of the Center and is headed by President May Mansour ‘14, Co-Vice Presidents Sarah Mannix ‘15 and Rich Berrios ‘14, Treasurer Monica Hincken ’14 and Secretary Samantha Kimmel ‘15. Next year, Cynthia Vella ’16 and Stephen Halouvas ’15 will join the board. In addition to the many opportunities offered by he LRELS and the Center for Labor and Employment, there are several exciting events taking place this semester.

The first event was a Distinguished Speaker Series, A Conversation with Harry I. Johnson III, a former partner at Arent Fox and a current NLRB Member appointed by President Obama. This event took place on February 19 and Mr. Johnson joined Professor Gregory’s labor law class on February 20 as well to give a speech about recent NLRB decisions, the decision making process and how the agency operates. Mr. Johnson graciously spoke to the attendees and provided fascinating and entertaining insights into the NRLB. (Stay tuned for pictures of the event!)

Next up, he Center for Labor and Employment will co-host a symposium entitled Title VII at 50, with NYU Law School, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, on April 4-5, 2014. 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the programs will celebrate the evolution of Title VII over the years and the current state of the law. In attendance will be some of our most distinguished alumni as well as very prominent academics and practicing attorneys in the field. Some of the presenters will include: Paulette Brown, President-Elect of the ABA; Amanda Jaret ’13, Law Fellow AFL-CIO; Samuel Estreicher, Director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at New York University; as well as other NLRB directors, and Professors. Over Friday and Saturday there will be roundtables and panel discussions covering a variety of topics including Professor Gregory’s forthcoming paper, “Past as Prologue in the Affirmative Action Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court: Reflections on Fisher v. University of Texas.” The conference will be an exploration of the living history of Title VII while looking ahead to what the next fifty years will bring. The winners of the inaugural Edwards Wildman Palmer Prize and the 2014 Coca-Cola Refreshments Scholar will be announced at the conference.

There are many opportunities to get involved with the Center for Labor and Employment and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society. Please follow the TWEN page or visit stjclelblog.org to stay updated on the happenings and scholarship opportunities.

Jan 10

Podcast – Boeing and the Middle Class

boeingHere at the blog, we are always on the lookout when labor and employment issues are in the news. One recent news item that has brought labor issues to the forefront was the struggle between Boeing and its workforce in the state of Washington. Boeing’s International Association of Machinists Union members narrowly approved a new labor contract last week, which effectively sacrificed their pensions for guaranteed work on the new Boeing 777X jet. Although the contract has saved Boeing jobs for their workforce, at what cost? Labor contract’s like these can have a huge effect on middle class workers, especially when there are steep cuts in benefits.

Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream? ponders the implications of this new contract in an opinion piece for the LA Times. Check out the article and listen to the podcast from NPR (link below). With income inequality on the rise, topics like this are sure to merit lots of debate in the coming year.

Listen to the podcast here.

Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Jan 10

Announcements!

The first general body meeting of the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society will be Tuesday January 14 at 5:30 pm in room 2M-01. We have election results and be discussing our events for this semester including several panel discussions, distinguished speakers and the Title VII at 50 Symposium. Any student with an interest is encouraged to come and get involved! Make sure to add us on TWEN to get email updates for meetings and events!

Any student who wishes to speak with Professor Gregory about career opportunities must attend this meeting. Please see this memo outlining the requirements and priority for meetings with him! Don’t forget your computer and resume!
labor law society general meeting january 14 2014 -2

Any student who received a grade of C or below in the fall semester 2013 Employment Law or Employment Discrimination class is welcome to review their exam beginning the week of Tuesday, January 21. All other students may review their exams beginning the week of Monday, January 27. To make an appointment for a review, please contact Ms. Paula Edwards, after January 2 (edwardsp@stjohns.edu; 718 990 6653.)

Check out the scholarship page for newly updated scholarships and summer opportunities!

Dec 27

Title VII at 50 Symposium – Save the Date

2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark legislation that fundamentally altered the landscape of employment relations by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also barred discrimination in public accommodations, public facilities and voting. By its enactment, notions of equality were more deeply embedded in United States public law.

On April 4-5, 2014, the St. John’s Law Review, the Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the St. John’s Journal of International and Comparative Law, in conjunction with NYU Center for Labor and Employment Law, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development, the St. John’s Center for Labor and Employment Law, and the St. John’s Center of International and Comparative Law, will host a two-day symposium commemorating this important milestone, which will feature panelists and speakers who will assess the past, present and future of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.The symposium invites scholars and practitioners to participate in a multi-disciplinary evaluation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If you would like information about attending this event, please fill out the form below! We will keep your information and contact you with more information in the near future!

Nov 19

NLRB Authorizes Charges Against Wal-Mart

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walmartcorporate/sets/On November 18, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it would be pursuing charges against Wal-Mart. The agency’s general counsel reportedly investigated workers claims that Wal-Mart had threatened employees for taking part in walkouts surrounding last year’s Black Friday shopping season. According to the NLRB, in several states, Wal-Mart unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined or terminated employees as a response to or in anticipation of legally protected worker activities. The Wal-Mart stores were in a waide range of states, including: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington. Despite authorizing these claims, the NLRB found no merit in other violations alleged. The NLRB found no merit in claims that alleged that worker’s were told to leave private property and changing work schedules. This case will be interesting to see unfold, as Wal-Mart is the largest employer in America, with over 2.2 million employees. 1 Black Friday 2013 is right around the corner and workers are planning other protests of Wal-Marts practices; this authorization of a complaint will give some publicity to the ongoing struggle between Wal-Mart and their employees. 2 For the official release from the NLRB, click here.

Notes:

  1. http://news.walmart.com/walmart-facts/corporate-financial-fact-sheet
  2. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303985504579206412630293566

Oct 26

15th Annual Worker’s Rights Conference

On October 25th and 26th, I had the privilege of attending the Peggy Browning Fund’s 15th Annual National Law Students Worker’s Rights Conference in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.  The event brought together law students across the country interested in the future of workers’ rights. The conference gave a greater understanding of the issues facing American workers, and was an opportunity to network with fellow students, and top practitioners in the field.

On Friday evening, conference attendees were treated to a showing of Trash Dance.  The film explored an artist’s organization of sanitation workers in Austin, Texas for a performance piece.  After the film, students offered opinions about the film’s metaphors for worker organization.

On Saturday morning, AFL-CIO General Counsel and former NLRB Member Craig Becker delivered the conference’s keynote address.  Mr. Becker reflected on his own experiences when speaking about unions’ future challenges.  He also offered insights into labor cases on the Supreme Court’s current docket and organized labor’s reception of the Affordable Care Act.

Students then participated in workshops that covered various salient issues. I attended three different workshops, all led by prominent figures in organized labor. Dennis Walsh, Regional Director of Region 4 of the NLRB, discussed the NLRA’s nuances in “Introduction to Basic Labor Law”. Fred Feinstein, former General Counsel to the NLRB, detailed how anti-union consultants grew from cottage industry to well-oiled machine in “Future of Worker Mobilization”. Baldwin Robertson, partner of Woodley & McGillivary, summarized issues facing state and municipal union members in “Public Sector Labor Law”.

In the plenary session on Saturday afternoon, panelists Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Peggy Shorey summarized new assaults on collective bargaining rights in the states, including new right-to-work initiatives and movements to end dues check-offs.  In closing remarks, Dennis Walsh, Marley Weiss and Joe Lurie thanked all conference organizers for their hard work in putting together the engaging and educational programming. It was my pleasure to represent St. John’s University School of Law at the conference.  The Peggy Browning Fund’s programs contribute greatly to the labor law community, and I was fortunate to be a part of this year’s conference.

Panelists (L to R): Peggy Shorey, Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Matthew Ginsburg.

Panelists (L to R): Peggy Shorey, Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Matthew Ginsburg.

Oct 10

Wang v. Phoenix Satellite Television US, Inc.: Unpaid Interns Are Not Employees

Unpaid interns are filling the court system. Many wage and hour cases have been heard by courts (more are upcoming) but very recently a more disturbing trend has emerged. A federal district court in New York ruled last week that unpaid interns are not “employees” and thus are not able to recover for sexual harassment under New York City’s Human Rights Laws (NYCHRL).

In the case of Wang v. Phoenix Satellite Television US, Inc., the Southern District of New York threw out the hostile work environment discrimination claims of Lehuan Wang, a broadcast journalism intern from Syracuse University. Ms. Wang alleged that her supervisor engaged in inappropriate conversations, including inviting her to his hotel room where he touched her and tried to kiss her. Ms. Wang also alleged that she had been discussing permanent employment with the supervisor, and after this incident, the supervisor was no longer interested in hiring her. Ms. Wang is a Chinese citizen and would have required Phoenix to sponsor her work visa.

Though the plaintiff argued she qualified as an employee under the NYCHRL even though she was unpaid, the court disagreed. The court found that the NYCHRL does not extend its protections to unpaid interns. The Court stated that an employment relationship is an essential condition of this claim and because Ms. Wang was not compensated this relationship did not exist. Despite this unfavorable ruling, Ms. Wang was able to maintain her failure to hire complaint under city and state Human Rights Laws.

This case is an interesting example of the predicament employer’s (and employee’s) may face because of an unpaid internship. Although the court did not extend the definition of “employee” under the NYCHRL, employers and employees alike should be aware of the recent ruling. A link to the full decision in Wang v. Phoenix Satellite Television US, Inc. is available here.

Oct 09

LERA Event Recap – “The Affordable Care Act on Collective Bargaining”

The Labor and Employment Relations Association sponsored a reception and panel discussion on “The Affordable Care Act on Collective Bargaining.” Many distinguished panelists participated, including: Jeff Stein, Alyson Mathews, and Frank Moss.

The discussion began with an analysis of the main characteristics of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”); first, universal coverage; second, the requirements on insurance companies covering everyone and third, the government subsidies given to those who cannot afford coverage. The panel also discussed the penalties employers will receive when they does not provide their employees adequate coverage. Jeff Stein addressed a potential issue that may arise, if people who are covered by insurance companies are also trying to receive subsidies.

Other issues that may arise when the ACA comes into effect will involve collective bargaining agreements. The question of who to cover remains unanswered because of eligibility. Children are not eligible under the Act and spouses do not have to be offered care. Another potential issue arises with part time employees who work thirty hours a week. Employers are concerned with increased costs from the Act while unions are concerned that the Act does not provide sufficient compensation.

Alyson Matthews noted that, “the regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act change on an almost daily basis, which makes it difficult for employers and unions to develop collective bargaining strategies. The law will likely result in a lot of creative solutions as employers and unions navigate the impact of it on the overall collective bargaining framework.”

As each panelist expressed his or her predictions on the long-term effects of the ACA, it became clear that much of the Act’s effect on employer, union, and employee relationships remains answered. This event was an excellent exploration of the possible ramifications of the Affordable Care Act and it was educational for students and practitioners alike.

Sep 18

FLSA Update: New Rule Expands Coverage to Home Care Workers

Photo Credit: VA

Photo Credit: VA

Yesterday, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the final version of a rule that will expand the coverage provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Under the new rule, home care workers will be protected by the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.[1]  Although home care workers whose primary role is to provide companionship to the patient remain exempt from the provisions, the expansion of coverage is expected to bring approximately 2 million additional workers under the coverage umbrella.[2]

Already, both sides of the issue have expressed opinions on why the expanded coverage either will or will not be a good thing in the long run.  Proponents of the new rule have highlighted the fact that a large number of workers who were traditionally underpaid for the services and hours they provided may now have an opportunity to earn a fair salary.[3]  Opponents of the new rule warn of “unintended consequences” that will result from requiring the payment of minimum wage and, in particular, overtime.[4]  They believe that one potential consequence will be the creation of an underground industry within the home health care industry comprised of workers who do not have proper training.[5]

The new rule takes effect January 1, 2015.[6]  Between now and then, the DOL will work with stakeholders in the industry, including the agencies who employ home care workers, home care workers, and patients, on implementation.[7]  More information, including fact sheets and details about upcoming webinars, are available at a special DOL website, which can be accessed here.


[1] United States Department of Labor, Minimum wage, overtime protections extended to direct care workers by US Department of Labor, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20131922.htm.

[2] Id.

[3] Bryce Covert, Why It Matters That Home Care Workers Just Got New Labor Rights, Think Progress, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/09/17/2634411/home-care-workers-rule-change.

[4] Angela Gonzales, New ruling on home care workers could mean bigger bills for consumers, Phoenix Business Journal, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/blog/health-care-daily/2013/09/new-ruling-on-home-care-workers-could.html.

[5] Id.

[6] Department of Labor, supra at note 1.

[7] Id.

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