Wyatt Employment Law Report


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U.S. Supreme Court Finds that Lafe Solomon’s Service as Acting NLRB General Counsel Violated the FVRA

By Courtney Samford

On March 21, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court finally resolved the issue of Lafe Solomon’s role as Acting General Counsel of the NLRB in National Labor Relations Board v. SW General, Inc.  In an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court held that Solomon’s position as Acting General Counsel violated The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“FVRA”) once he was nominated by then President Obama for the permanent position.  Generally, Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to obtain Senate approval to appoint “Officers of the United States,” but the FVRA allows the President to appoint a limited class of individuals to serve as acting officers on a temporary basis until a replacement can be confirmed by the Senate.  Pursuant to the FVRA, certain individuals who are nominated for a permanent position may not serve as an acting officer.

In June 2010, a vacancy arose in the general counsel position for the NLRB.  Then President Obama appointed Solomon to serve as Acting General Counsel on a temporary basis, and several months later, nominated him to serve as the General Counsel.  Solomon’s temporary position did not require Senate confirmation, but the permanent position did.  However, the Senate refused to act on Solomon’s nomination, and Obama was forced to Continue reading


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Sixth Circuit denies request to reconsider Hardin County’s “right to work” ordinance

By Courtney Samford

Last week, the Sixth Circuit denied a request by several collective bargaining organizations to rehear a challenge to Hardin County, Kentucky’s “right to work” ordinance.  The union challengers, including the ALF-CIO, argued that the county ordinance was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  More specifically, they claimed that Hardin County’s ordinance was preempted by the NLRA, which only permits “State or Territorial” laws prohibiting security agreements between employers and unions.  The County, on the other hand, took the position that its ordinance was valid because it was a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The lower court found in favor of the union plaintiffs and struck down the ordinance.

Hardin County appealed to the Sixth Circuit, and a three-judge panel reversed the lower court’s ruling, finding that “State or Territorial” laws include ordinances passed by Continue reading


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U.S. Supreme Court remands transgender bathroom case back to Fourth Circuit

By Courtney Samford

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded a case involving a transgender high school student back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case, Gloucester County School Board, Petitioner v.  G. G., By His Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm, focuses on the right of a transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity at his public high school.  Grimm, who was born a girl, used the boys’ restrooms with the approval of school administration until the Gloucester County School Board enacted a policy that required all students to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender assigned at birth.

Grimm filed suit, alleging that the school board’s policy discriminated against him in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause.  The lower court dismissed Grimm’s Title IX claim.   Following an appeal, the Fourth Circuit reversed, finding that the lower court did not Continue reading


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Senate Bill 18: Will the General Assembly Finally Clarify the Reach of the Peer Review Privilege?

By Rachel K. Mulloy

A bill passed in the Kentucky Senate (by a vote of 22-12) and currently awaiting House action in the Judiciary Committee proposes to amend the portion of KRS 311.377 pertaining to the confidentiality of certain medical records.  If passed, Senate Bill 18, sponsored by Senator Ralph Alvarado of Senate District 28, will prevent records of an entity, group, or individual performing a professional review function from being admissible in any civil action or administrative proceeding, including, specifically, medical malpractice actions.

Under the proposed amendment, KRS 311.377(2) reads as follows:

At all times in performing a designated professional review function, the proceedings, records, opinions, conclusions, and recommendations of any committee, board, commission, medical staff, professional standards review organization, or other entity, as referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall be Continue reading


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Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements

By Rachel K. Mulloy

Small employers now have the ability to assist employees with the cost of health care through a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA).  Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), small employers were able to offer stand-alone health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to help employees pay for medical care expenses, including health insurance premiums, on a tax-free basis.  This changed with the passage of the ACA, under which stand-alone HRAs were generally considered group health plans that violated the ACA’s annual dollar limit prohibition (some stand-alone HRAs, such as retiree-only HRAs, remained valid).  Consequently, employers who continued to offer such arrangements could face fines of up to $36,500 per employee per year (with a $500,000 total limit).  With the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which incorporates key components of the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act, small employers  may again offer this benefit to employees.

Eligible Employers   To be eligible to offer a QSEHRA, an employer (1) cannot be an “applicable large employer” under the ACA, i.e., had fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, and (2) cannot offer a group health plan to any of its employees.  Qualified employers must offer the Continue reading


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New I-9 Form

By Glen Krebs

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo.Beginning January 22, 2017, Employers must use the new Form I-9 when hiring a new employee. The new form is dated 11/14/2016. The old form (dated 03/08/2013) will not be acceptable for a date of hire after January 22, 2017. The old and new forms are not too different. Regarding the new form, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) states as follows:

“Among the changes in the new version, Section 1 asks for ‘other last names used’ rather than ‘other names used,’ and streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals.

Other changes include:

  • The addition of prompts to ensure information is entered correctly.
  • The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators.
  • A dedicated area for including additional information rather than having to add it in the margins.
  • A supplemental page for the preparer/translator.

The instructions have been separated from the form, in line with other Continue reading


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United States Supreme Court to Resolve Class Action Waiver Issue

By Michelle D. Wyrick

In a matter of great interest to many employers, last week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to decide whether arbitration agreements that prohibit employees from pursuing class and collective remedies are enforceable. Courts are currently divided on the issue. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases, Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, from the Seventh Circuit, Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, from the Ninth Circuit, and NLRB v. Murphy Oil, USA, from the Fifth Circuit, to resolve the question.

The dispute pits the savings clause of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. §2, which allows invalidation of arbitration agreements only “upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract” against employees’ rights to engage in protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §157. The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) takes the position that provisions in arbitration agreements requiring employees to waive their rights to pursue class or collective actions violate employees’ rights to engage in protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). In May 2016, the Seventh Circuit agreed and Continue reading