In the post on Sunday 4/10/2022 we saw the wave continued: workers vote to unionize at Amazon warehouse in NY (an update to our post of 4/7/2022). This was the first successful unionizing attempt within Amazon (which is now the US’s second-largest private employer with 1.1 million employees!). Who led this small union? See the post. And why is Amazon considering filing objections to the vote? Yep, see the post. As at Starbucks, this might just be the first Amazon domino to ‘fall” – and thus dramatically change Amazon’s business and how it treats employees. The vote was 2654 – 2131. The next step for that group is noted in the post. And speaking of the next domino, a union vote at an Amazon location in AL barely failed in early April, but … see the post for more on that. Other unions are also targeting employees in certain positions at Amazon as being ripe; that is discussed in the post. And in case you are wondering, the supposed tipping point for the Amazon unionization drives in NY and AL was how the company allegedly treated its employees during the height of the pandemic and now – see the post for more on that.
TAKEAWAY: Not only do employees want to be happy and rewarded now, they are willing to take action to achieve those things – be aware take action at your workplace.
The post on Monday 4/11/2022 reminded us of discrimination in recruitment that could land employers in court. A twitterstorm dominated parts of the news in early April. A job applicant posted a letter she received when denied employment. It said that she was not hired because of her “strong Welsh accent” and “regional activities which would not suit the office environment”. Wow! And that was despite the good things the potential employer said about her (as noted in the post). So the question is, did the company illegally discriminate? Well, we all know that job performance (probably) has nothing to do with the applicant’s accent or anything else unrelated to the ability to do the job. The analysis of whether this might have been illegal discrimination based on the accent is in the post. And also included are the possible limitations on that argument.
TAKEAWAY: Adverse actions taken as to applicants or employees should be based solely on job performance (or ability to perform the job) and definitely not a protected characteristic. Contact an employment lawyer if you are unsure if illegal discrimination might or did take place.
The post on Tuesday 4/12/2022 told us that over half of young workers say they might switch jobs – and the potential consequences for your workplace. Many employees have grown fond of remote work and the routines it let them have, most with a better quality of life and certainly more me or family time. So those who are forced to return to the office might seek other employment. So what are the big things younger employees want? See the post (including comparisons among generational age groups). Another big factor in what younger employees want? The continued ability to do side projects or businesses. The post talks about how that can be beneficial to employers. Two areas of focus that might help companies retain younger talent are listed in the post – and make complete sense. And how to implement those things – also in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Maps for attracting and retaining employees are great for employers – especially when there is built-in flexibility. Know how to legal hire and retain employees.
The post on Wednesday 4/13/2022 was about Amendment votes questioned – what does your condo or homeowners’ Association require? How about PA law? Planned community associations are governed by a Declaration (of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), Bylaws, and often Rules & Regulations. While the R&R can be amended by the Board at its discretion (unless specifically stated to the contrary in the other documents), amendment of the Declaration and Bylaws might be governed by state law or the documents themselves. An example of how that plays out is in the post. The high affirmative vote requirements for some amendments is hindered by voter apathy. What is the effect of someone who does not vote? See the post. Changing the affirmative vote requirement is possible – but first the association needs to achieve the requisite vote to do so (chicken and egg).
TAKEAWAY: Consult a community association lawyer in matters related to amendment of the Governing Documents (and more). Make sure it is done correctly.
The post on Thursday 4/14/2022 was close to home: HOA sends Biglerville into new territory. Integration of municipal ordinances and condo/HOA governing documents. A new 37-home community in the Borough will soon have a homeowners’ association. That is apparently the first for the Borough so it must figure out how to integrate its ordinances with the HOA’s governing documents. One way that works was noted by the Council President (and is in the post). The Council needs to ensure that owners know who will enforce what (for example, state law versus HOA rules/restrictions). Some of the discussion about that is in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Owners of homes in planned communities must ensure compliance with municipal ordinances AND the association’s governing documents – assistance from a community association lawyer is often needed in case of dispute.
The post on Friday 4/15/2022 was about the Supreme Court’s arbitration ruling: limits on federal jurisdiction for confirming or challenging awards under the FAA. Know the law! [Once again the link seems to have disappeared: we apologize and reprint it here: http://ow.ly/9KQ850IL5Pv.] The decision was handed down March 31, 2022; the issue was when federal courts have jurisdiction to rule on motions to confirm, modify or vacate arbitration awards under the Federal Arbitration Act. The decision was 8-1 and narrowed the ability of federal courts to have such jurisdiction. That means the underlying motions (to confirm, modify or vacate the arbitration awards) will need to be filed in state court and not federal court. So let’s go through the Court’s analysis a bit. It started with the premise that the FAA does not grant jurisdiction to federal courts but does give parties to arbitration agreements certain rights as noted in the post. That led to the question of when action must be filed in state court and when in federal court. Prior case law is noted in the post as background (and the starting point for when a motion to compel arbitration can be filed in federal court). This decision dealt with motions to vacate, modify or confirm arbitration awards. How and why this decision limiting federal jurisdiction will (potentially) affect employers is discussed in the post – and should be considered at the start of the arbitration process.
TAKEAWAY: Know which forum will be deciding issues in arbitrating your employment disputes – and how the forum’s limitations might affect you and your case. Consult an employment lawyer.
Finally, in the post yesterday 4/16/2022 we learned that ex-Labor Dept worker can sue DOL despite prior settlement, court says. Yes, it actually makes sense on the facts. Karin Weng started working for DOL in 1995 and in 2010 sued for race and sex discrimination. She resigned in 2012; why and what she then did are noted in the post. In 2013 the suit between Weng and DOL was settled. The end, right? Nope. Weng filed another suit in 2015, claiming that she was fired in retaliation for bringing the first (discrimination) suit. The trial court ruled in favor of DOL in 2020, saying Weng released all claims as part of the 2013 settlement. She appealed. The appellate court reversed in an opinion issued about a week ago. The basis on which the Court reversed is noted in the post (along with a different reason for remand to the trial court).
TAKEAWAY: It only makes sense – and is pretty settled in PA – that a settlement or release can only deal with claims that may or might exist at the time it is signed, but not future claims that might arise. And certainly not future claims that arise on a different basis. Consult an employment lawyer as to the potential claims at issue for you.