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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.

CLIENT ALERT: Class Action Waivers in Employment Contracts Upheld by Supreme Court

On May 21, 2018, in a 5-4 decision and a major win for employers, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of waivers in employment contracts that prohibit employees from grouping claims together in collective or class actions in favor of individual arbitration proceedings. See Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, ___U.S.___ (2018).

CLIENT ALERT: Prohibition on Recoupment Prior to Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In April, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Azar No. 17-11337 (5th Cir. 2018), held that district courts are authorized to enjoin the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and its contractors from recouping alleged overpayments prior to the completion of the administrative appeal process.

CLIENT ALERT: Low Volume Appeals Settlement for RAC Appeals

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a new settlement proposal to providers with outstanding appeals at the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (“OMHA”) and the Medicare Appeals Council (“MAC”). Essentially, CMS is offering to pay up to 62% of the claim to the provider for qualifying claims that are currently in the appeal process. Interested providers may submit an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) to CMS by June 8, 2018. Providers should explore this settlement opportunity and submit an EOI to receive an offer of settlement. Providers may decline the offer after the EOI is submitted. Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC’s Provider Relations, Audit, and Appeals Unit, a division of its Healthcare Department, is able to assist providers with filing the EOI, analyzing the outstanding claims subject to the settlement, and reviewing the Administrative Agreement that is offered by CMS.

CLIENT ALERT: Ohio Managed Care Organization (MCO) Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment started April 30, and will continue through May 25, 2018, for your MCO (Managed Care Organization). Every State Fund Ohio employer can select their MCO for the coming policy year. The MCO is responsible for helping to manage Ohio Workers’ Compensation claim costs. All State Fund employers will begin to receive correspondence urging them to select that particular MCO, or urging them not to make a switch.

Medical Marijuana Rules and You

The Ohio Medical Board has adopted regulations in conjunction with the Ohio Pharmacy Board that would govern physicians who may elect to participate under the Ohio Medical Marijuana statutes.