abalelconfI admit it. Misleading headline.

It won’t be EVERYTHING else. But….there were a few other nuggets from the ABA Labor & Employment Annual Conference last week that are worth sharing. For prior posts on the subject, go here and here.

  • At one of the programs, an EEOC attorney suggested that no re-hire clauses in separation agreements may be unlawful. Philip Miles — who I co-presented with at one of the conference programs — has a full recap on his site but the gist is that such a position is unsupported. As Philip posted, “The EEOC attorney’s position was not well-received at the conference, and she acknowledged that zero case law supports the position. One audience member “politely” suggested that if they couldn’t find a single court to side with them in 50+ years, perhaps it was time to move on. The EEOC attorney responded that the agency often seeks to move the law and alter the status quo.”
  • At a program on wellness plans, the speakers highlighted a new development this month — proposed regulations from the EEOC to encompass such plans. As Jon Hyman recapped on his blog, “[T]he EEOC announced that it plans to amend its regulations to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act to permit employees to provide health information about their spouses in exchange for certain financial and other incentives as part of employer wellness programs.”  Employers who use these plans should be particularly mindful that new regulations are on their way.
  • The Wall Street Journal finally got around to writing about the delays in overtime regulation revisions — days after I first reported it. NBC News also picked up on it and quoted me.
  • The EEOC is also in the news for its continuing press on systematic cases. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang said at the conference that the agency had been “transformed” with, as Bloomberg BNA reports, “markedly more agency investigations and litigation aimed at employer policies and practices that operate on a company-wide, industry-wide or nationwide basis.”
  • dinicsThe FMLA continues to be a challenge for employers to enforce properly. At one session, speaker Jeff Novak gave a helpful tip when you outsource FMLA to a 3rd party administrator. Look at their forms to ensure they comply with DOL regs.
  • And finally, Reading Terminal Market has to be one of the best food sites in the country. I would highly recommend getting the roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s. It may not be kosher, but it’s definitely a treat. Don’t forget to add some sharp provolone and broccoli rabe to it. Delish.

Since the last time I published a list of labor & employment law lawyers to follow back in 2012, there are just a bunch of you out there now using Twitter. (And I presume you’re already following me @danielschwartz, right?)

So, it’s probably time to update my list of labor & employment law-related people to follow on Twitter.

But I’m going to cheat, a little.

Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

Frankly, in looking over my lists from 2009 and 2012, I have a lot of repeats.  So, it should be obvious that some of those should be followed regardless of whether they are on a top 10 list.  (And really, anyone from those lists should be followed too even if I don’t re-mention them here.)So here are four of my “of course, you should already be following them” list:

  • Jon Hyman (@jonhyman) – Publisher of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog. Great insights.
  • Molly DiBianca (@mollydibi) – Runs the Delaware Employment Law Blog with a wicked sense of humor and a self described “genuinely nice person”.
  • Eric Meyer (@eric_b_meyer) – Unfortunately a member of Red Sox nation but provides an irreverant look at employment law on The Employer Handbook.
  • Seth Borden (@SHBorden) – While Seth writes a bit less for Labor Relations Today then he did a few years ago, he has a particularly strong knowledge base in labor law.  Of course, as with Eric, he has a fatal flaw in his love of the Sox, but so be it.

Here are 10 more people to follow on Twitter for labor & employment law.

  1. Robin Shea (@robineshea) – I said back in 2012 that she was perhaps the “best lawyer you’re not following online”.  Still holds true.  Writes the Employment & Labor Insider which is a must read.
  2. Jeff Nowak (@jeffreysnowak) – Jeff knows the Family Medical Leave Act.  Follow him and you will too.
  3. Chai Feldblum (@chaifeldblum) – A self-described “first out lesbian EEOC Commissioner with hidden disability of anxiety disorder”, she provides extraordinary insights into the workings of the EEOC.
  4. Jason Shinn (@jason_shinn) – Jason write the Michigan Law Employment Advisor and consistently nails it. His last article on why delaying employee terminations is inevitably bad for the company is a perfect example.
  5. Paul Callaghan (@paulcall1) – An employment lawyer from over the big pond in London, Paul travels quite a bit to the United States and thus has a different perspective than most.  Plus, I’ve met him at several conferences and like the guy too.
  6. Walter Olson (@walterolson) – I’m kind of surprised I haven’t listed him before. He’s not strictly a labor & employment law person, though his well-known Overlawyered blog features the topic from time to time.
  7. Philip Miles (@philipmiles) – From the middle of Pennsylvania, Philip shares unusual employment law cases and interesting tweets too.
  8. ABA Labor & Employment Law Section (@abalel) – I’ve been involved with the section for a number of years and have met a number of terrific people that you should also be following too (@evilinheels, @adamsforman, @employeerights).   They may not tweet as often as some others, but I can attest that they are highly knowledgeable in the employment law area with a sharp wit as well.
  9. Mara Lee (@MaraLeeCourant) – This one is for the local folks.  Mara covers business and labor issues for the Hartford Courant; one of the few people in the state who is looking at the big picture.  I should also mention that Steven Greenhouse (greenhousenyt), who covers labor issues for The New York Times, is worth a follow as well.
  10. Eric Gjede (@egjede) – A business lobbyist, Eric represents employers’ interests for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association at the legislture on labor & employment law issues.   Bonnie Stewart (@CBIAbonnie), Cindy Panioto (@cbiahr) and others at the CBIA also  tweet noteworthy information for employers in the state regualrly.

And if you’re looking for something a little different, my firm (@shipmangoodwin) and one of my partners, Ross Garber (@rossgarber), also deliver high-quality tweets of interest to people in Connecticut and beyond.

Finally, by the very nature of a list like this, I’ve excluded others.  I’m following about 350 people at the present time on Twitter. Feel free to look at the list for further ideas.

I have no doubt I’m missing a few.  Who else should we be following or mentioning? Who have I forgotten? Feel free to add your favorites to the comments below.

The American Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Annual Conference is going on right now in Atlanta, Georgia.  As I’ve recapped on this blog before (here, for example), there are some terrific programs and educational opportunities there. 

I wasn’t able to make it down this year, but due to the wonders of technology, I’ve been able to get a lot of the benefits of it without being there.

Why? Two reasons, which I hope you’ll find useful too.

First, and most importantly, all of the conference materials are available online. For free.  And to top it off, no ABA membership is required. 

It’s a great service and one that you ought to take advantage of. Why? Because there are some very good papers that you can download.  Here are some highlights:

These are terrific resources for the in-house lawyer in particular but human resources personnel may get a lot out of it as well.

Second, I also have been following the conference along on Twitter. How so? By doing a search for a hashtag (or keyword).  Do a search for “#abalel” and you will find dozens of tweets about things going on in the conference. You can also follow the ABA Labor & Employment Law Section at @abalel. 

 

A confession.

I’m a little tired about writing about social media and labor law.  Perhaps you are a little tired about reading about it too.

Unfortunately for us both, expect a lot more about it over the next years because the National Labor Relations Board has social media in its sights and its not letting go anytime soon.

Why am I so confident? Because of what I heard repeatedly at the ABA’s 5th Annual Labor & Employment Law Conference in Seattle earlier this month.  Speaker after speaker — including members of the NLRB’s leadership — all indicated that this was an area of undisputed focus for the NLRB.

This is important for two reasons: First, the NLRB takes the position that it can enforce its laws against unionized employers and non-unionized ones too. Thus, an active NLRB is something that all employers need to be concerned about.

Second, the NLRB is going after policies not just actions.  In other words, even if the employer is otherwise complying with the law, it may bring actions against employers who have over broad policies that restrict an employee’s right to engaged in protected concerted activities.  Of course, the NLRB hasn’t said exactly what language in a policy WILL pass muster so its up to employers to seek legal advice to figure out if their policies are over broad.

But all hope is not lost for employers. One case highlighted by the speakers was decided in the employer’s favor last month.  The case involved in a Chicago-area BMW dealer that fired an employee over his Facebook post. But the uncertainty that surrounds this area will continue for some time.

As another speaker joked at the meeting, that may mean lots of work for employment lawyers for myself. But its bad news for employers who just want some certainty.

If you’d like some resource materials, the ABA has posted some sessions online here. I would strongly recommend the program entitled:  “Using the Control Key—How Far Can and Should Employer Social Media Policies Go.”  Good stuff.

 

On Friday, I had the opportunity to speak at the ABA National Symposium on Technology in Labor & Employment Law in New York.  In the presentation, I talked about the importance of social media tools like Twitter is having in the workplace and legal profession.

I noted how I have used Twitter to get my news and I suspected that employees of companies were using it in that fashion too.  Twitter, I said Friday, was a force that could be ignored no longer. There were obviously big implications for workplaces as well such as how to monitor employee usage or provide guidelines for use as well.

Before I spoke, I couldn’t help but look at the window from the conference. It was held at NYU Law School, had a spectacular view of the Empire State Building. Ever since 9/11, it has reclaimed its iconic place on the New York skyline and I’m reminded of that fateful day nearly 10 years ago every time I see that building now. 

I took a picture of that view which is what you see here on the website. 

So, it is somewhat fateful that I learned of the news of Osama Bin Laden’s demise through Twitter last night.  Indeed, when the news crawl came up on the television screen, my wife asked a simple question to me: "What was Twitter saying?" as if that were the most routine question in the world.

And indeed, within a few seconds of looking at my iPad — well before the networks or cable news announced it — there it was: Bin Laden was dead. 

To be sure, there was some rampant speculation going on too. Libya? Nuclear issues? (Heck, someone even joked about an alien invasion).  But Twitter, as the New York Times reports, got it first and got it right.  

That story is no doubt being repeated around the United States (and world) today and it is an important one not only for society but for employers as well.  Twitter is here to stay as are other social media tools.  While there may be other types of social media to follow, it can be ignored no longer.

It emphasizes once again that information is moving instantaneously and without a policy and procedure in place at the workplace to manage social media use, employers remain at risk without seriously thinking about how address this. 

That said, the concern about Twitter is also the thing that makes it so useful. Information can spread in an instant.  Its utility is like nothing we’ve seen. 

A lot has changed since 9/11. Facebook and Twitter weren’t even created back then.  If you’re policies and procedures are as old as that anniversary, you yet again,

have your notice that it’s time to change. 

The American Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section kicks off its annual conference tomorrow in Chicago and, by all accounts, it appears its going to be bigger and better than ever.

Over 1300 people have registered for the conference, and the programming looks first-rate, with NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and various USDOL officials among the presenters.  The ABA’s press release sums up the highlights. 

But just because you can’t make it, doesn’t mean you can’t advantage of the conference or follow what’s going on. Indeed, there are a variety of different ways you can do so:

If you’re going, drop me a note and I’d enjoy meeting you in person; I’ll be assisting in capacities.  Look for updates all week from the program both here and online.