NLRB Rules on Bargaining Obligations of Employers and Misclassification of Independent Contractor, Fourth Circuit Decides Harassment Case, New DOL FMLA Forms
The past several weeks have seen a number of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) developments. Earlier this month, the Board announced a decision that allows employers to more easily make unilateral changes to collective bargaining agreements without needing to negotiate such changes with the union. The NLRB has issued a request for briefing on whether it should reconsider its standards for evaluating profane outbursts and offensive statements of a racial or sexual nature. The NLRB also recently held that employers do not violate the National Labor Relations Act solely by misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
The Fourth Circuit, covering Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, recently decided a case involving a custodial employee who had been terminated for sexually harassing a coworker. The individual subsequently sued his former employer, Elon University, alleging that the university failed to promote him and later terminated him because of his Mexican heritage, and claimed that the workplace harassment violation was a pretextual reason. The Fourth Circuit found his claims to be unavailing and ruled that the university was entitled to summary judgment, again demonstrating that courts have little sympathy for employees who engage in workplace harassment.
The Department of Labor has announced proposed revisions to the Family and Medical Leave Act forms on its website. According to the DOL, the new forms will have fewer questions requiring written responses, replaced by statements that can be verified by simply checking a box. The updates will also re-organize medical certification forms for faster determinations of whether a medical condition is a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA. The DOL additionally hopes the new forms reduce the demand on healthcare providers for follow-up information.
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