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

Staffing companies, PEOs, and other human capital agencies have benefitted from the conservative new appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If you read my post on workplace changes to expect with President Trump, then this post won’t be a surprise.

Yesterday, 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.

The Board’s decision yesterday accelerated the process and effectively returned the analysis to the narrow definition. Interestingly, in the decision, the Board found the two companies to be joint employers, and then ruled as follows:

We agree with the judge that Hy-Brand and Brandt are joint employers, but we disagree with the legal standard the judge applied to reach that finding. The judge applied the standard adopted by a Board majority in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. d/b/a BFI Newby Island Recyclery (Browning-Ferris). In Browning- Ferris, the Board majority held that, even when two entities have never exercised joint control over essential terms and conditions of employment, and even when any joint control is not “direct and immediate,” the two entities will still be joint employers based on the mere existence of “reserved” joint control, or based on indirect control or control that is “limited and routine.” We find that the Browning-Ferris standard is a distortion of common law as interpreted by the Board and the courts, it is contrary to the Act, it is ill-advised as a matter of policy, and its application would prevent the Board from discharging one of its primary responsibilities under the Act, which is to foster stability in labor-management relations. Accordingly, we overrule Browning-Ferris and return to the principles governing joint-employer status that existed prior to that decision….By overruling Browning-Ferris, we also make the Board’s treatment of joint-employer status consistent with the holdings of numerous Federal and state courts. (footnotes and citations omitted, emphasis added).

Here is a link to the NLRB press release

For additional information, please contact Jeffrey C. Miller or any other member of BMD’s L+E team.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.