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NLRB Ruling re: Private University Labor Update

Private University Labor Update

Graduate students employed by private universities are permitted to unionize under federal law.

On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued a 3-1 decision in Columbia University that student assistants working a private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The decision reverses the NLRB’s decision in Brown University 342 NLRB 483.

The NLRB had long held that students who teach at private universities were not employees. In 2000, a Democrat laden Board altered the NLRB’s principle in New York University, 332 NLRB 1205 (NYU) when it held that graduate assistants were employees. In 2004, a Republican led Board in Brown University reconsidered NYU and concluded that the 25-year precedent was correct, and that NYU should be overruled.

The NLRB has swung back to a Democrat majority. That majority reversed Brown University saying it “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act without a convincing justification.”

What does it mean for Private Universities?

The authority to define the term “employee” rests primarily with the NLRB absent an exception within the National Labor Relations Act. For as long as the Board maintains a Democrat majority, graduate assistants will be employees under the NLRA and eligible for all collective bargaining rights.

Being recognized as “employees” gives graduate students the right to organize and collectively bargain the terms and conditions of employment. The main terms and conditions will likely be wages/stipends, health coverage (including family coverage), hours of work, holidays, and paid/unpaid leaves of absence.

The main concern that private university employers may face is an overreaching organizational campaign. All graduate students are not equal, and an employer can challenge the appropriateness of a collective bargaining unit under a “community of interest” evaluation. In determining the community of interest, the similarity in hours, wages, benefits, skills, supervision, terms of employment are the most indicative of mutual interest.

For additional information, please contact the Labor and Employment team.  John N. Childs at (330) 253-1946, Jeffrey C. Miller, at (216) 287-5265.

BMD Obtains Dismissal of ADA Title III Suit Against National Outlet Mall Chain

On January 12, 2018, Brennan, Manna & Diamond obtained the dismissal of an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) lawsuit filed against Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The suit, which was brought under Title III of the ADA, alleged that Tanger’s Byron Center, Michigan outlet mall contained barriers to access in violation of the ADA’s accessibility requirements. The plaintiff demanded prospective injunctive relief, including a retrofit of the entire mall, as well as expert witness and attorneys’ fees.

CLIENT ALERT: Bureau of Workers' Compensation Budget Amends Law

Bureau of Workers' Compensation Budget Amends Law As we head into 2018, you should be aware of some recent changes made in Ohio’s laws concerning Workers’ Compensation. These changes became effective September 29, 2017. Some will affect business more than others, but these are changes you should really know about.

Client Alert: NLRB Reverses 2015 Browning-Ferris Joint Employer Decision

The NLRB issued a 3-2 decision reversing the Board’s standard for joint employment in collective bargaining that it issued in the 2015 Browning-Ferris decision. That controversial decision by the liberal leaning Board overturned years of precedent and significantly expanded the definition of joint employment. The decision spurred legislation (H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act) to overturn the expansive definition, and replace it with a far more narrow and proper definition of joint employment.

Ohio Court of Appeals Upholds Sanctions for Attorney’s Frivolous Conduct

On August 28, 2017, the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District upheld a trial court’s order imposing frivolous conduct sanctions in the amount of $22,926.72 on a plaintiff’s attorney and his law firm in the case of Keith-Harper v. Lake Hosp. Sys., Inc., --- N.E.3d ----, 2017-Ohio-7361 (11th Dist. Lake).

The Impact of the 2008 ADA Amendments on the Definition of "Substantial Limitation" Under the Ohio Civil Rights Act

The Impact of the 2008 ADA Amendments on the Definition of “Substantially Limitation” Under the Ohio Civil Rights Act