Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Monday, December 5, 2016

2d Circuit Holds That Employees Have Right To Union Representative Before Consenting To Drug Test

Although unreported, Manhatten Beer v. NLRB, ____F.3d____(2d Cir. Nov. 16, 2016), may turn out to be a significant decision concerning Weingarten rights. With very little analysis, the court stated:

Here, the Board reasonably construed the NLRA, in light of relevant judicial and administrative precedent, in determining that Diaz had the right to the physical presence of a union representative before consenting to take a drug test in the context of an investigation that he reasonably believed would result in discipline. See NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251, 260, 262 (1975). Therefore, we uphold the Board’s conclusion that Manhattan Beer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. In addition, we uphold the Board’s award of the make-whole remedy of reinstatement and backpay. Such relief is available when there is “a sufficient nexus between the unfair labor practice committed (denial of representation at an investigatory interview) and the reason for the discharge.” Taracorp Indus., 273 N.L.R.B. 221, 223 (1984); see also 29 U.S.C. § 160(c). Here, the Board reasonably determined that Manhattan Beer’s discharge of Diaz resulted from Diaz’s assertion of his Weingarten rights. See Ralphs Grocery Co., 361 NLRB No. 9 (2014); Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union v. Quality Mfg. Co., 420 U.S. 276, 280 (1975). In particular, Manhattan Beer’s documentation supporting Diaz’s termination stated that Diaz was terminated because he “[r]efused to go for drug testing under the reasonable suspicion of substance abuse.” J.A. 264. Consequently, we uphold the Board’s conclusion that Diaz was entitled to reinstatement and backpay.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


December 5, 2016 in Labor Law, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Breaking News! Court Enjoins Obama Executive Order Requiring Disclosure of Labor Law Violations

On July 31, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13673 which requires federal contractors to disclose labor law and employment discrimination violations. This Executive Order also precludes certain contractors from entering into predispute arbitration agreements concerning employment discrimination claims. The Office of Federal Procurement and the Department of Labor in turn issued regulations which were enjoined in Associated Builders and Contractors v. Rung, ___F.Supp. 2d___, 1:16-CV-425 (E.D. Tx. Oct. 24, 2016),  Download ABC PI 10-14-16 This disclosure could result in the contractors being debarred from federal contracts. 

In a lengthly decision, the court preliminary enjoined these regulations as compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment and because they conflicted with Congressional statutory mandates which specified how labor law violations needed to be addressed. The court reasoned in part:

                                Finally, even if federal agencies could properly disqualify government contractors based
                                upon final administrative decisions, arbitration awards, and court orders enforcing one of the
                                fourteen labor laws at issue, the Executive Order and FAR Rule should not be allowed to go into
                                effect because they extend their reach far beyond those limited circumstances. The Order and Rule
                                appear to conflict directly with every one of the labor laws they purport to invoke by permitting
                                disqualification based solely upon “administrative merits determinations” that are nothing more
                                than allegations of fault asserted by agency employees and do not constitute final agency findings
                                of any violation at all. As noted above in the Findings of Fact, agency employees who are
                                assigned to administer these labor laws issue thousands of complaints, cause findings, wage
                                notices, and citations each year, many of which are dismissed or significantly reduced after they
                                are contested, often after lengthy proceedings. There is no statutory basis to treat these
                                “administrative merits determinations” as final and binding while they are still being contested or
                                when they are settled without admission of fault. Thus, it appears to be a denial of fundamental
                                statutory and constitutional rights for the Executive Order and FAR Rule to so act.

Labor laws in this country have been widely criticized for being ineffective. This is an important case because it concerns whether it could regulate who it contracts with. This decision will surely be appealed. Law review commentary on this important topic would be most welcome.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

October 25, 2016 in Discrimination Law, Labor Law, Law Review Ideas, Legislation, Litigation, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kentucky Right To Work Municipal Ordinance Preempted By NLRA

UAW v. Hardin County, ___F. Supp. 2d ___(W.D. Kentucky, Feb. 3, 2016), is an important case.  Download Hardin County Order

A federal court held that a municipal ordinance which mandated right to work and limited union hiring halls and due-checkoff provisions was preempted by the NLRA. The NLRA, of course and most notably in Section 14(b), permits STATES to enact Right to Work laws. 

The decision, which spans 14 pages, is well written and provides a nice summary of the NLRA and existing precedent in this area. As the court explains:

Section 14(b) provides that nothing in the NLRA shall be read to authorize the execution or application of union-security agreements “in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.” 29 U.S.C. § 164(b). As the plaintiffs observe, it makes little sense to read “State or Territorial law” as encompassing local law in light of the statute’s previous reference to “any State or Territory”—if “State or Territorial law” includes the laws of political subdivisions, then the statute must be read “in any State or Territory [or political subdivision thereof]” to avoid assigning two different meanings to “State” in the same sentence. This is not a logical reading; “[a] standard principle of statutory construction provides that identical words and phrases within the same statute should normally be given the same meaning.”

Law review commentary would be most welcome. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein




February 4, 2016 in Labor Law, Law Review Ideas, NLRB, Recent Developments, State Law, Unions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

DOL Issues Administrator Interpretation on Employee Status

On July 15, 2015, Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil issued Administrator Interpretation No. 2015-1 entitled "The Application of the Fair Labor Standard's Act's "Suffer or Permit" Standard in the Identification of Employees Who Are Misclassified as Independent Contractors",  Download DOL

There are no surprises here. The DOL simply summarized the applicable case law that applies the multiple factor economic reality test as opposed to the common law right to control test to determine employee status:

Ultimately, the goal is not simply to tally which factors are met,  but to determine whether the worker is economically dependent on the employer (and thus its employee) or is really in business for him or herself (and thus its independent contractor). The factors are a guide to make this ultimate determination of economic dependence or independence.... The Supreme Court "has consistently construed the Act 'liberally to apply to the furthest reaches consistent with congressional direction,' recognizing that broad coverage is essential to accomplish the [Act's] goal. . . ."

The DOL makes no mention of the fact that there are at least two other tests utilized in other employment employment statutes (a hybrid economic reality test and common law right to control test; statutory purpose test) or any of the scholarly literature concerning employee status. 

While the DOL was focusing on the FLSA and on some level it is understandable why they simply focused on the economic reality test, I believe that some mention of these other tests was warranted because employers should not assume that simply because an individual is an employee under the FLSA does not mean that he or she is going to be an employee under Title VII, where for example, a hybrid test is often utilized.

Several years ago, I wrote a law review article which addressed many of these issues. Employees, Employers and Quasi Employees. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 16, 2015 in Employment Law, Federal Law, FMLA, Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Labor Art Exhibition

St. Louis labor lawyer Bruce Feldacker is a collector of labor art. His collection is described here.  From May 24, 2014 through August 2, 2015, his collection will be on display at the Cedarhurst Museum in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Details are available by clicking  Download Press Release Labor Art Exhibit-1_1

If your in the area this summer, for those interested in labor history, this looks like a wonderful thing to do.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


May 27, 2015 in Labor Law, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Graduate Assistant Strike at NYU

Graduate Assistants at NYU have been on strike for awhile. An article discussing the strike and NYU's recent threats from Inside Education can be found here

As readers to this blog as well as my former students all know, in Brown University, the NLRB held that Graduate Assistants were not employees; rather they were primarily students and therefore not protected under the NLRA.

This issue is again pending before the NLRB and I would not be surprised if the Obama Board reverses the Bush Board's Brown decision. But, we will have to wait and see.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


March 12, 2015 in Labor Law, News, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Attorney Strike


Several years ago, I published a short article where I explained that attorneys are employees too and are entitled to the same protections as everyone else. You can download a copy of that article at no charge here.

The reality is that there are very few attorney labor unions. Frankly, there should be much more because many attorneys work under deplorable conditions. In early February, attorneys at MFY Legal Services went on strike. Their strike was recently settled

I bring this to you attention as another example of the importance of unions to the working people of this country which include attorneys. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 25, 2015 in Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, December 5, 2014

NY Times Labor Reporter Steve Greenhouse Takes Buyout

Politico reports that NY Times Labor Reporter Steve Greenhouse took a buyout.

As the article states:

Steven Greenhouse, the labor correspondent for the New York Times, took a buyout this week. That decision immediately reduced by 50 percent the number of reporters at major U.S. newspapers who cover labor full-time—even as the dismal situation of the American worker becomes a central preoccupation for American politicians and policymakers. 


To some extent, labor reporters are falling victim to the very same workplace trends they cover. “Newspapers are under the gun financially,” observes Greenhouse, “and they’ve laid off a lot of workers.” Editors, he said, don’t view labor as “the sexiest beat.”

Labor coverage’s decline—like that of labor unions—long predates print journalism’s circulation slide. At Newsweek, for instance, as long ago as 1985, covering labor was no more than an entry-level job. Bob Cohn (today president and chief operating officer at the Atlantic, then my fellow grunt at Newsweek) became labor and workplace correspondent at the tender age of 22. Back then, he and I would swap wisecracks about what a backwater the beat had become.

Read more:

I only met Steve, who is a trained lawyer himself, a few times. Congratulations Steve! Hopefully, the NY Times will recognize the importance of hiring a new labor reporter.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 5, 2014 in Labor Law, News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Right To Work Law

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the law’s constitutionality in a 5-0 decision in Zoeller, et al. v. Sweeney, et al., (Nov. 6, 2014). The decision reverses a lower court decision that previously declared the law unconstitutional. 

Indiana’s Right to Work law prohibits employers from requiring union membership or the payment of dues as a term or condition of employment. A knowing or intentional violation of the law subjects the violator to a Class A misdemeanor.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 12, 2014 in Interesting Cases, Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pres. Issues Exec Order Requiring Fed Contractors To Disclose Labor Violations

The President signed an executive order requiring prospective contractors to disclose to agencies violations of 14 federal wage and hour, discrimination, health and safety, family and medical leave, labor and other workplace laws.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, applying to new federal contracts of more than $500,000 starting in 2016. Additional information can be found on this White House fact sheet.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

August 1, 2014 in Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Employee Who Resigns Because of Sexual Harassment is Eligible for Unemployment

Matter of Gascon, ___A.d. 3d ___(3rd Dep't. May 29, 2014), is an interesting case. As we all know, if an employee resigns, he is not eligible for unemployment. But, what if he or she resigns because of sexual harassment. Such employees would be eligible for unemployment. As the court stated:

        Whether a claimant has left employment for good cause so as to qualify for unemployment         insurance benefits is a factual issue to be resolved by the Board and its determination will be         upheld if supported by substantial evidence (see Matter of Petrov [Bragard Inc.Commissioner         of Labor], 96 AD3d 1339, 1339 [2012]; Matter of Garside [Commissioner of Labor];, 73 AD3d         1420, 1420 [2010]). Based upon claimant's testimony concerning various and continuing         incidents  of sexual harassment by the owner and, in particular, a final incident that         precipitated         her departure  from employment, we find that the record contains         substantial [*2]evidence   supporting the Board's  determination (seeMatter of Grace     [Astrocom Elecs., Inc.—Commissioner          of Labor];, 69 AD3d 1156, 1157 [2010]; Matter of     Braband [RF Tech.—Sweeney];, 239 AD2d 627, 628 [1997]). Although  the owner denied         engaging in the conduct alleged by claimant, and the  employer provided statements of         other employees indicating that they had no knowledge of the allegations of sexual         harassment, this evidence presented a credibility determination for the  Board to resolve . . 


May 30, 2014 in Labor Law, New York Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Minnesota Law Review: The Future of Organized Labor

The Minnesota Law Review will host a one day sympsium, "The Future of Organized Labor:  Labor Law in the 21st Century" on October 25 in Mondale Hall on the law school campus in Minneapolis.  The keynote speakers are Craig Becker, general counsel for the AFL-CIO and G. Roger King of Jones Day in Columbus, Ohio. 

According to the law review's website, the symposium is at capacity and registration is closed.  Interested persons, however, may want to contact the law review for the symposium issue when it is released.

Craig Estlinbaum

October 23, 2013 in Conferences, Faculty, Labor Law, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Court Finds That Retiree's Right To Health Insurance Vested At Time of Retirement

Retirees' rights to lifetime health benefits vested on their retirement and thus were subject to benefits cap that union negotiated when retirees were still active employees. Curtis v. Alcoa Inc., ____F.3d____(6th Cir. 2013). 

This is an important issue which courts are all of the map on.

Law review commentary would be most welcome. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 9, 2013 in Arbitration Law, Labor Law, Law Review Ideas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rare 2d Circuit Decision Holding Individual Shareholder Liable for ULP's

Salm v. NLRB,____F.Appx. ____(2d Cir. Jan. 30,2013), is an important case. The 2d Circuit in an unreported decision affirmed the NLRB's remedial order which pierced the corporate veil and found individual shareholders personally liable for unfair labor practices. As the court explained:

In the context of federal labor law and enforcement of orders of the NLRB, it remains the
case that the “insulation of a stockholder from the debts and obligations of his corporation is the
norm, not the exception.” NLRB v. Deena Artware, Inc., 361 U.S. 398, 402-03 (1960). This
general norm, however, is not inviolate. To pierce the corporate veil, the NLRB applies the twoprong test laid out in White Oak Coal Co., 318 N.L.R.B 732, 734-35 (1995), enforced, 81 F.3d
150 (4th Cir. 1996). Under this test, the NLRB may pierce the corporate veil and impose
personal liability on a shareholder or owner if “(1) there is such unity of interest, and lack of
respect given to the separate identity of the corporation by its shareholders, that the personalities
and assets of the corporation and the individuals are indistinct, and (2) adherence to the
corporate form would sanction a fraud, promote injustice, or lead to an evasion of legal
obligations.” White Oak Coal, 318 N.L.R.B. at 735.
In analyzing the first prong, the NLRB examines a host of specific factors, including:
(1) whether the corporation is operated as a separate entity; (2) the commingling of funds
and other assets; (3) the failure to maintain adequate corporate records; (4) the nature of
the corporation’s ownership and control; (5) the availability and use of corporate assets,
the absence of same, or under capitalization; (6) the use of the corporate form as a mere
shell, instrumentality or conduit of an individual or another corporation; (7) disregard of
corporate legal formalities and the failure to maintain an arm’s-length relationship among
related entities; (8) diversion of the corporate funds or assets to noncorporate purposes;
and, in addition, (9) transfer or disposal of corporate assets without fair consideration.
Id. Of these, “[n]o one factor is determinative, and not all of these factors must be present.”
NLRB v. Bolivar-Tees, Inc., 551 F.3d 722, 728-29 (8th Cir. 2008). While based on one major
transaction, the Board rightly concluded that an analysis of these factors showed that Salm had
indeed abused the corporate form to such a degree—by drawing down virtually all of the assets
of the Domsey Trading Corporation for his personal use—that the first prong of the White Oak
had been met.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein


March 24, 2013 in Labor Law, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

7th Circuit Authorizes Arrest of Owner For Contempt in Failing To Comply With NLRB Case


NLRB v. HH3 Trucking, ___F.3d____, 194 LRRM 3266(7th Cir. Jan. 10, 2012), is one of those case you do not see very often. The owners of a company found to have committed a ULP refused to comply with an NLRB backpay order and were found in contempt. After they continued to refuse to comply, the court ordered their arrest. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 6, 2013 in Labor Law, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 21, 2013

California Supreme Court Upholds Peaceful Labor Picketing on Private Sidewalks

From the Los Angeles Times today, this interesting decision on peaceful labor picketing on private sidewalks by the California Supreme Court:

Signature gatherers and protesters may be ejected from privately owned walkways outside a store, but labor unions may picket there peacefully, the California Supreme Court decided Thursday. The state high court unanimously agreed that private walkways in front of stores, unlike public areas in shopping malls, are not open forums accessible to anyone who wants to assemble to express a view. But the justices split, 6 to 1, in upholding two state laws that prevent courts from issuing injunctions against peaceful labor pickets on private property. The laws protecting labor pickets are justified "by the state's interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes," Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the court California "may single out labor-related speech for particular protection or regulation" as an exercise in the economic regulation of labor relations, Kennard wrote.

Reprinted from Workplace Prof Blog

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

January 21, 2013 in Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2d Circuit Appears Sympathetic To Employee Who Did Not Testify Because of Pending Criminal Case

Carnegie Linen v. NLRB, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. Nov. 29, 2012), is an interesting case. I bring it to your attention because it concerned a party who refused to participate because of a pending criminal matter. My understanding of the law was that if an individual refuses to testify in a civil matter, that can be used against him in that case. The 2d Circuit may have opened up a small crack to this argument, however, when it stated:

Finally, Petitioner claims that the ALJ’s denial of its request for adjournment violated
due process. Petitioner moved to adjourn until the conclusion of criminal charges filed against
Perlson, stemming from the coffee-throwing incident that the ALJ found violated Section
8(a)(1). Petitioner argues that, until the criminal charges have concluded, Perlson could not
testify without violating his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. Petitioner
argues that this required adjournment. However, we have held that “the granting or denial of a
continuance is a matter within the trial examiner’s discretion.” NLRB v. Interboro Contractors,
Inc., 432 F.2d 854, 860 (2d Cir. 1970). In this case, the ALJ adjourned the hearing for more than
six months to accommodate Perlson’s involvement in the criminal case; the ALJ denied a request
for a further adjournment after the criminal case itself was postponed for an additional two
months. In proceeding with the unfair labor practice hearing, the ALJ declined to draw a
negative inference against Petitioner due to Perlson’s failure to testify. Other witnesses testified
about the coffee incident on behalf of Petitioner. Accordingly, the ALJ did not abuse his

January 20, 2013 in Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DC Circuit Issues Major Decision On Withdraw of Recognition


SFO Goodnite Inn v. NLRB, ____F.3d____ (D.C. Cir. Nov. 20, 2012). The D.C. Circuit enforced  a National Labor Relations Board order finding a California hotel improperly withdrew recognition from a UNITE HERE local, rejecting the hotel's argument that it lawfully relied on anti-union petitions signed by a majority of its employees.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

December 12, 2012 in Labor Law, NLRB | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Will Michigan Become A RIght To Work State

December 7, 2012 in Labor Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Secunda and Hirsch Labor Law: A Problem Based Approach (LexisNexis 2012)

Move over Cox, there is a new labor law text in town. It is Secunda & Hirsch, Labor Law: A Problem Based Approach (2012) and it should be available from LexisNexis anyday. Readers may be familar with Professor Secunda and Professor Hirsch's work. They are two of the four editors of Workplace Prof Blog, a blog we often quote and which this blog is modeled after. 

What makes this book so outstanding is that it updates everything and I mean everything. The book focuses on recent caselaw and recent issues. The book is written with the student in mind and also provides several problems which are designed to stimulate interest in labor law and make the student think. 

The book also covers all the classic cases and covers all the basic issues; it just does it better. Most importantly, the cases are edited and many presented in less pages than in other texts. The book also quotes from several important law review articles.

Congratulations Paul and Jeff. Everyone teaching labor law should consider this book for adoption. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

December 4, 2012 in Labor Law, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)