Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Senate Confirms Republican Member to NLRB

By Edwin S. Hopson

On August 2, 2017, just prior to the August recess, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Marvin Kaplan by a vote of 50 to 48 to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board.  The Senate, however, did not vote on a second Trump nominee to the Board, William Emanuel.  The vote on the second nominee is expected in September.  With Kaplan’s confirmation, the five member Board now consists of two Republicans, two Democrats and one vacancy.  Thus, it is unlikely that there will be any more ground-breaking new precedent in favor of unions for some time to come.  It has been nine years since the Republicans had a majority of Board Members.

The term of the Democrat General Counsel to the Board expires in early November of this year.  He will be replaced by a Republican yet to be named.


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Senate Fails to Act on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and Minimum Wage Bill

By Allison Grogan Buckley

Two high-profile bills pending in the Senate have failed to become law at the end of Kentucky’s 2015 regular legislative session.

In March, Kentucky’s House unanimously passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (House Bill 218), which would have required employers subject to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” As drafted, the Act would have also amended the definition of “a related medical condition” to include “lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.” The bill was received by the Senate on February 27 and sent to the Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection committee on March 2, but the Senate failed to act further on the bill before the end of the 2015 regular session.

Also pending before the Senate was House Bill 2, which would have gradually raised the minimum wage in Kentucky from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next two years. Like HB 218, the minimum wage bill was passed by the House and received in the Senate. The Bill was then referred to the Senate’s Appropriations & Revenue committee, but the Senate failed to act further prior to the end of the legislative session.

 


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House Unanimously Passes the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Bill Now Onto Senate

The House unanimously passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HB 218), which would require employers subject to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” It would also amend the Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful for employers to “fail to accommodate an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition [and would] require employers to provide notice to all employees regarding discrimination for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” In addition, a “related medical condition” would be amended to include “lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child and has the same meaning as in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 2000e(k).” The bill is now headed to the Senate.

pregnancy, workAccommodations for pregnant employees is a hot topic in employment news right now. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in Young v. UPS whether employers are required under the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act to provide accommodations for pregnancy–related symptoms. Young had requested light duty due to Continue reading


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President Withdraws NLRB Nominee and Sends a New NLRB Nominee to the Senate

By Edwin S. Hopson

On November 12, 2014, President Obama unexpectedly advised the U.S. Senate that he was withdrawing the nomination of Sharon Block to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board and that he was submitting the nomination of Lauren McGarity McFerran to be on the NLRB, replacing Democrat Nancy Schiffer whose term expires December 16, 2014.

Block’s nomination had already cleared the Senate’s HELP Committee and was set to be voted on by the lame-duck Senate before it recessed next month.

This development could mean that there is insufficient time to get McFerran confirmed and, therefore, her nomination will be taken up by the new Senate after the first of the year.

McFerran is currently Deputy Staff Director to the HELP Committee.

If McFerran is not confirmed prior to the end of the lame-duck session, that means that the NLRB will be operating with two Democrat Members and two Republican Members. Thus, the chances of the NLRB advancing a “liberal” agenda including speeding up representation elections, etc., will be virtually nil.

McFerran’s background would appear to be pro-labor.  However, at this time it is not possible to say whether she can be confirmed by a Republican Senate.


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Supreme Court in Noel Canning Invalidates NLRB Recess Appointments

By Edwin S. Hopson

On June 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning et al., 573 U.S. ___ (2014), held in a unanimous decision that President Obama’s purported recess appointment of three members (Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Terence Flynn) to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 was invalid. The opinion written by Justice Breyer was joined in by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion in which Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Thomas and Alito joined.

Some of Justice Breyer’s key points in his analysis were:

“Accordingly, we conclude that when the Senate declares that it is in session and possesses the capacity, under its own rules, to conduct business, it is in session for purposes of the [recess appointment] Clause.

“Applying this standard, we find that the pro forma sessions were sessions for purposes of the Clause. First, the Senate said it was in session. The Journal of the Senate and the Congressional Record indicate that the Senate convened for a series of twice-weekly “sessions” from December 20 through January 20. 2011 S. J. 923– 924; 158 Cong. Rec. S1–S11. (The Journal of the Senate for 2012 has not yet been published.) And these reports of the Senate “must be assumed to speak the truth.” Ballin, supra, at 4.

“Second, the Senate’s rules make clear that during its pro forma sessions, despite its resolution that it would conduct no business, the Senate retained the power to conduct business.

“Senate has enacted legislation during pro forma sessions even when it has said that no business will be transacted. Indeed, the Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent during the second pro forma session after its December 17 adjournment. 2011 S. J. 924. And that bill quickly became law. Pub. L. 112–78, 125 Stat. 1280.

“We thus hold that the Constitution empowers the President to fill any existing vacancy during any recess—intra-session or inter-session—of sufficient length.”

The justices split only over the question of whether the vacancy to be filled had to itself have occurred during the recess or whether it could have occurred prior to the recess. The majority held that the vacancy could occur prior to the recess, based on historical practice.

Justice Scalia, in his concurring opinion, argued that the vacancy to be filled by a recess appointment by the President had to occur during the recess and relied upon the following language contained in the Constitutional provision at issue:

“The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

Thus this more restrictive view did not carry the day. However, the NLRB is now left with scores of cases which will have to decided again by the newly constituted Board, which was confirmed by the Senate.


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Supreme Courts Sets Date for Oral Argument in Recess Appointments Case

By Edwin S. Hopson

The U.S. Supreme Court has set oral arguments in NLRB v. Noel Canning for January 13, 2014.  This case, involving the recess appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board in early January 2102 by President Obama, has several issues to be resolved, as specified by the High Court:

“1. Whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised during a recess that occurs within a session of the Senate, or is instead limited to recesses that occur between enumerated sessions of the Senate.”

“2. Whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised to fill vacancies that exist during a recess, or is instead limited to vacancies that first arose during that recess.”

The Court also stated:  “In addition to the questions presented by the Petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question:  whether the President’s recess appointment power may be exercised when the Senate is convening every three days in pro forma sessions.”


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Griffin Nomination to be NLRB General Counsel Moves Forward in Senate

By Edwin S. Hopson

On October 29, 2013, the Senate, in a vote of 62 to 37, invoked cloture on the nomination of Richard Griffin, Jr., to be General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.  This vote clears the way for his confirmation since clearly a majority of Senators favor his appointment.