Friday, September 19, 2014

Are you the Kind of Employer Whose Employees Have to be Impaired to Work for You?

A recent study released by Mashable claims that 9.74% of Americans have gone to work under the influence of marijuana.  The sample size was 534 and the methodology was via SurveyMonkey, so while I wonder about the scientific reliability of the study and to whom it was directed, there is a lesson to be learned.

Do you run a workplace where nearly 10% of your employees have to get stoned to come to work? Even if they aren't stoned, are they coming in already having ingested alcohol?  I wonder what the study would have revealed if it asked about both alcohol and marijuana.

I get called by people who are having a rough time of it at work all the time.  They have to deal with "bossholes" (that's what we call immediate supervisors who are bullies) making ridiculous demands and giving humiliating "feedback."  These employees daily confront the aggravation of public transit or congested highways only to be greeted by a surly co-worker or supervisor who, under the guise of "business as usual," is completely lacking in social graces or empathy.

It's a rough world out there.  Be the kind of employer where your employees want to work.  Be the kind of supervisor who inspires those whom you supervise to make you look better while bettering themselves.  Remember that almost every one of your employees would leave you in a flash if they won the lottery jackpot.

The late Mike Conrad, playing Sargent Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues used to say at the end of roll call "let's be careful out there."

I say "let's be human beings out there."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Says it's Recess?

One thing I know is you don't stand in the doorway of an elementary school where the bells have just rung for recess.

Bells are easy.  (Remember the expression, "You can't unring a bell?")  

But recesses in legislative sessions, well, they're a little more interesting.

Last year the DC Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a number of so-called "recess appointments" to the National Labor Relations Board by President Obama.  The opinion in Canning v. NLRB is here.

Canning stems from a time when President Obama took advantage of a dysfunctional Senatorial calendar, where the leadership and minority were playing all kinds of calendar games under a "unanimous consent agreement."

Let's see how the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals described it:

[T]he Senate would meet in pro forma sessions every three business days from December 20, 2011, through January 23, 2012. The agreement stated that "no business [would be] conducted" during those sessions. During the December 23 pro forma session, the Senate overrode its prior agreement by unanimous consent and passed a temporary extension to the payroll tax.  During  the January 3 pro forma session, the Senate acted to convene the second session of the 112th Congress and to fulfill its constitutional duty to meet on January 3.
The President's power to make recess appointments is found in the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, clause 3, which reads:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
The D.C. Circuit held that recess means "at the end of a session," and not "intrasession," and invalidated the President's appointments (thereby resulting in the NLRB not having a quorum with which to make precedential decisions, including the decision from which Canning appealed to the Supreme Court.)

Canning was argued today before the United States Supreme Court. During oral argument, as reported in more detail here and with even better analysis here, the Supreme Court justices expressed almost universal suspicion for the administration's maneuver.

While the decision could ultimately clarify what a recess appointment is, the specific issue is moot because President Obama has subsequently appointed five new NLRB members, all of whom were confirmed by the Senate on July 29, 2013.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Minimum Wage Alert for Multi-State Employers

The dropping of the Waterford Crystal Ball in Times Square, New York City also ushers in an increase in the minimum wage in New York and 13 other states.

The following states have adopted increases in minimum wage: 

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

In addition, some states, such as California and New York have already enacted further increases which will go into effect later this year or next year.

Some of these states have also increased the minimum amount to those employees who are tipped.  Typically an employer can take a partial "tip credit" against the minimum wage if the employee has signed a wage declaration for those tips.  Ask me about the pizzeria that did not properly calculate the tip credit for its bicycle delivery drivers and paid dearly.

Some municipalities have enacted even higher minimum wages, such as San Francisco and San Jose in California.

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania and under Federal Law remains $7.25, but there is talk in Washington of an increase.  As the Congress lumbers up to a reasonable facsimile of a functioning legislative body, we may see more action in this area.

Check with your human resources professional or labor counsel if you do business in more than one state.