A Note by Sam Smith
Download the full note here.
On April 9, 2021, Amazon defeated a unionization effort to unionize at their fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama after a hotly contested election featuring significant campaigning by both the company and the Union. The Union immediately petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) alleging several violations of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”) by Amazon, which resulted in the NLRB setting aside the original vote and ordering a new election.  The NLRB also reached a settlement with Amazon over its general anti-labor practices in December 2021, forcing the company to issue communications to its over 1.5 million employees informing them of their rights under the NLRA.
 See Alina Selyukh, Amazon Warehouse Workers get to Re-do Their Union Vote in Alabama, Nat’l Pub. Radio (Nov. 29, 2021), https://www.npr.org/2021/11/29/1022384731/amazon-warehouse-workers-get-to-re-do-their-union-vote-in-alabama.… Read the rest
A Note by Kevin Estes
Download the full note here.
On September 22, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law A.B. 701 intending to further protect the health and safety of warehouse workers in the state of California. Authored by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, A.B. 701“strengthen[s] warehouse workers’ rights against arbitrary and abusive work quota systems by requiring companies to disclose work quotas to employees and state agencies, and establish statewide standards to minimize on-the-job injuries for employees working under strict quotas.” Although the bill places restrictions on all single warehouse distribution center with 100 or more employees or 1,000 or more employees at one or more warehouse distribution centers in the state, the bill specifically targets Amazon Inc. and their “extreme high-churn model, continually replacing workers in order to sustain dangerous and grueling work pace demands.” To achieve its purpose, A.B. 701 … Read the rest
By Niya Ge
Download full note here.
This Note argues that when a cause-of-action is based on a statutory breach, employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries under ERISA should not be mandated to exhaust internal administrative remedies provided by the plan before filing suit in district court. This Note provides a brief background of the relevant ERISA provisions, and will then overview various court decisions and rationales falling on both sides of the issue. This Note argues that an administrative exhaustion requirement does not align with the plain language and Congressional intent of ERISA, and such a reading will only force aggrieved participants and beneficiaries to partake in an inefficient and futile procedural obstacle.… Read the rest
By Kelly Chen
Download full note here.
In response to the historical rise of women in the workforce, Congress asserted Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that aimed to preserve women’s employment status through mandating unpaid parental leave. While still in force today, the Act fails to adequately deliver its promise to resolve the difficult choice women face between work and family care. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) unsuccessfully sought to provide a comprehensive, national paid parental leave program. This Note argues that a national paid leave program should be resurrected to ameliorate the gender disparity embedded in conditions of parental caretaking. The Note examines the historical development of the FAMILY Act through discussion of FMLA’s goals and limits. Additionally, the Note analyzes popular arguments put forth by the FAMILY Act’s supporters and critics and explains how the Act would have positively affected women and businesses … Read the rest
By Jason Shultz
Download full note here.
Racial discrimination is a systemic issue deeply rooted in American society. One company within the sharing economy cannot possibly change the behavior of the individual hosts that are essentially landlords. This Note examines how Airbnb hopes to achieve an inclusive community for its users, how the new policies will affect hosts and guests, as well as Airbnb as a corporation, and how the traditional Fair Housing Act applies to Airbnb’s hosts. Finally, this analysis will illustrate how Airbnb’s new focus on inclusion will impact the sharing economy as a whole. Airbnb needs to work with the government to change the current exceptions that allow certain landlords to discriminate against classes of people. These changes include both eliminating the exceptions and reclassifying how landlords are treated under government regulations. By working with lawmakers and other sharing economy companies, Airbnb can make a large impact … Read the rest
By: Matthew Lowe
When litigation looms for large corporations, settlement becomes a key part of the strategy discussion. In order to avoid the costliness associated with, and reputational damage from, lengthy trials, it is not unexpected for a company to dip into its litigation budget and pay a premium to avoid the hassle. Some companies, however, adopt the opposite strategy: settlement avoidance. If a company is to adopt such a strategy, it will also need to adopt proper defensive measures, such as the implementation of adequate Human Resources (“HR”) oversight, in order to effectively ride out the storm of the trial.
Following Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (“Chipotle”) going public in January of 2006, it came to be known as an “industry darling”. Recognized for its transparency and its commitment to utilizing farm-fresh, high-quality ingredients, Chipotle was a trendsetter and leader in the fast-casual movement in dining.… Read the rest
By: Thomasin Sternberg
The impact women have on the workforce is not minute. In 2010, 46.8% of the labor force in the United States was comprised of women. Yet many working women feel pressured to choose between having families and advancing their careers. The pressure to make this choice is detrimental to the advancement of women, leading to gender discrimination and inequality. According to a study published by UC Hastings College of Law, 43% of working women leave the work force to raise their children. With women in such great numbers ultimately choosing family over work, many employers are mindful of how this choice will effect them when making hiring, firing, and promotion decisions. Oftentimes this leads to gender-based discrimination in the work place when employers give preferential treatment to male employees to avoid the costs associated with maternity leave.
A number of federal and state laws … Read the rest
On November 28, 2013, Joslyn Henderson filed a complaint against her former employer, Laurus Technical Institute (Laurus), with the NLRB’s Regional Office in Atlanta. The complaint alleged that Laurus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “maintaining and enforcing an overly broad ‘No Gossip Policy,’ and by suspending and terminating the charging party for violating the ‘No Gossip Policy’ and engaging in protected, concerted activities.” As expected, Laurus filed a timely answer effectively denying any and all unlawful conduct. The legal issue presented in this case was whether or not an employer can implement a workplace policy effectively prohibiting all communication between employees that the employer deems to be “gossip” or not contributing to workplace productivity.
Laurus operates a private, for-profit technical school with three campuses in Georgia: Decatur, Jonesboro and Atlanta. Henderson worked as an admissions representative at Laurus’ Decatur … Read the rest
On January 28, 2014, the National College Players Association, on behalf of a group of Northwestern University football players, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) seeking to form a union. While the college pay-for-play debate is well documented, a request for union representation by such athletes is unprecedented. There is no denying that collegiate athletics, with its TV revenue, licensing fees, merchandising, and ticket sales, has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. However, NU players claim that their central concerns are related to health, education, and other basic rights, not salaries – at least not yet. In an official statement released by Northwestern, the University has taken the position that, while it is “proud of [its] students for raising these issues,” not only are student-athletes students, not employees, collective bargaining would “not advance the discussion” of relevant topics. If college football players get recruited, much like … Read the rest
Hiring practices have come a long way over the past century. There are now stringent laws which prevent hiring discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. As a result, when an individual submits a job application, they should be evaluated based on their qualifications. Unfortunately, there are still hiring practices that may prevent a qualified person from acquiring a job.
1. Excluding the Unemployed
Some employers advertise that the unemployed need not apply. It is absurd, however, to say that being unemployed can make someone unqualified to work without taking other factors into account. Accordingly, this hiring practice is banned in some states and has a federal platform against it. Furthermore, this hiring practice disproportionately impacts African Americans, mothers returning to the workforce, and older workers.… Read the rest