A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board could have a major impact on tens of thousands of employees who never thought that they would have to worry about labor unions. In Browning Ferris Industries of California, Inc. et al., NLRB Case No. 32-RC-109684 (August 27, 2015), a majority of the five member Board held that a company was required to recognize and bargain with a union that was elected not by its own employees but instead by the employees of a services contractor. In so deciding (over vehement dissent by two members), the Board overturned longstanding precedent and applied a new standard for determining “joint employer” status.
For decades, joint employer status and obligations applied only to entities that exercised “direct and immediate” control over workers, which generally excluded employees of outside contractors or franchisees. Under the Board’s new interpretation, an entity could be deemed a joint employer of a contractor’s employees — and be required to recognize and bargain with a union — if it has only indirect control over working conditions or has the right to control such conditions, even if it does not actually exercise that right.
By expanding joint employer status to include entities who merely have the right to control some aspects of the workplace indirectly, it is conceivable that collective bargaining obligations could apply to entities that have no actual employees at a particular location, such as general contractors, franchisors, or even property owners who engage outside contractors for cleaning or landscaping services. The Board’s new interpretation potentially could even restrict such an entity’s rights to terminate a service contract if such a termination could be deemed to discriminate against workers for whom the entity is deemed to be a joint employer.
To discuss how to prepare for the possibility that your business could be targeted for union organizing activity, please contact one of our attorneys.Read More
We are extremely pleased to welcome Savannah attorney Kristen Goodman as a partner in the firm. Ms. Goodman joins us from Goodman Law Firm, which she founded in 2002. She was the lead appellate Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice in the Southern District of Georgia, before founding her own firm. Kristen will continue to practice in Savannah and Atlanta, handling a variety of legal matters, including litigation and advice on employment-related issues. Her practice also focuses on business law, unfair trade practices, health care law, Constitutional law, and appellate matters. She has extensive experience representing clients in the logistics industry and in the medical field.
Kristen is an Atlanta native who graduated with high honors from Emory University in 1989 and the University of Georgia School of Law (magna cum laude) in 1993. She is licensed in both Texas and Georgia. After clerking for the Honorable J.L. Edmondson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Kristen worked as an associate in the employment and labor group for Baker Botts, LLP in Houston Texas, and later as a litigation associate with Hunter Maclean in Savannah.Read More