Excerpts from October 2011 “An Ounce of Prevention” Newsletter

*The following are excerpts from some of the articles presented in our Newsletter. Please contact us to obtain complete copies of past Newsletters.

Entering the Minefield of Social Media Policies

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently taken action in many cases involving social media policies and employee’s postings on social media and other websites (such as Facebook and Twitter). The NLRB is responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects employee’s rights to bargain collectively—often through a union. Generally speaking, the NLRA applies to all workplaces, regardless of whether a union is formally recognized. Over the past year or so, so-called “Facebook firings” have been a hot topic. So hot, in fact, that the Office of the General Counsel of the NLRB issued a 22-page Memorandum addressing many recent cases it has handled.

Discrimination Against Those “Associated” With a Disabled Person is Unlawful.

In July, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Ohio) issued a decision on the relatively rare claim that an employee was discriminated against because he was “associated with” a disabled person. Stansberry v. Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination not just on the basis of an employee’s own disability, but also that of someone with whom he is related or associated. Here, Stansberry’s wife had a severe autoimmune disorder; Stansberry was not disabled himself.

Are Departing Employees Entitled to Vacation Pay?

The law does not require private employers to offer vacation, sick days or other paid time off. When such a benefit is offered, the employer has the right to set the rules regarding how the leave is earned, and when an employee is allowed to use the leave.

Employers Now Required to Post Notice of Employees’ Right to Unionize

As if the social media policy cases aren’t enough, the National Labor Relations Board recently enacted a rule requiring employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The rule takes effect April 30, 2012, and applies to most private-sector employers, except agricultural, railroad and airline employers.