Friday, July 30, 2010
Congratulations to Brannon P. Denning (Cumberland School of Law), our own Marcia McCormick (Saint Louis University - School of Law), and Jeffrey M. Lipshaw (Suffolk University Law School) on the publication of their new book: Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate's Guide (ABA 2010).
Here is the abstract:
This is the Table of Contents and the Introduction to a forthcoming book from the American Bar Association. The authors provide detailed advice and resources for aspiring law professors, including a description of the categories of law faculty (and what they do), possible paths to careers in the legal academy, and "how to" guides for filling out the AALS's Faculty Appointments Register, interviewing at the Faculty Recruitment Conference (the "meat market"), issues for non-traditional candidates, dealing with callbacks and job offers, and getting ready for the first semester on the job.
The book should be available from the ABA later in 2010.
For those of you on both sides of the law professor hiring process, the timing of this publication could not be better with the first distribution of the FAR electronic resumes due out next week. I have the distinct pleasure of counting all three of these wonderful people as good friends and their advice in this area should be especially worthwhile for those ready to consider becoming a law professor.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Millions of people worldwide entertain themselves or supplement their incomes – or both – by meeting with fellow employees as avatars in virtual worlds such as Second Life, solving complicated problems on websites like Innocentive, or casually “clicking” to make money for simple tasks on Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk. Virtual work has great promise – increasing efficiency by reducing the time and expense involved in gathering workers who live great distances apart, and allowing for efficient use of skills so that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. At the same time, virtual work presents its own unique series of challenges, and regulation is needed to ensure that the end result is not virtual sweatshops. Some of the questions that virtual work raises are: How might the minimum wage laws apply to new forms of work, such as crowdsourcing, where work is broken down to small components? How could virtual worlds help us to test the amount of unconscious bias that exists in hiring? How will unions use virtual worlds, and as happened in the 2007 IBM Italy “virtual strike,” are more virtual industrial actions yet to come? Other issues discussed in the Article include virtual work approaches to whistleblowing, harassment, and disability law. While still nascent, these legal issues are of concern to employees and employers alike, and in light of that fact, it is appropriate to begin formulating well-thought out approaches to address them.
This article is the logical next step from the article Miriam published last year, in Alabama L. Rev., on virtual work and the FLSA. Nice job, Miriam!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Congress might not have gotten around to generally barring arbitration as a condition of employment, but the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a significant step in that direction. The new law has whistleblower provisions related to the Commodity Future Trading Commission , the SEC, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau . While these provisions are notable in their own right, all three parts of the statute have identical provisions declaring unenforceable waiver of any rights and remedies "by an agreement, policy form, or condition of employment, including by a predispute arbitration agreement." A separate section provides that "No predispute arbitration agreement shall be valid and enforceable, if the agreement requires arbitration of a dispute arising under this section."
Of course, most extant arbitration provisions provide for arbitration of any dispute arising from employment, which would on their face cover claims under the new law. But Dodd-Frank pretty clearly means to render these ineffective, and it seems likely that the courts will apply the statutory provisions even if, in some sense, they would retroactively invalidate pro tanto extant agreements. (Another argument would be that employees can't knowingly waive rights that didn't exist). I assume, further, that the effect of a statute invalidating an arbitration agreement is for the court to decide, not the arbitrator, adding a new twist to the two Supreme Court decisions this Term supposedly settling most questions of the judge/arbitrator division of authority.
Interestingly, the same statute that invalidates mandatory arbitration for Consumer Bureau whistleblowing claims both requires the Bureau to study and report back to Congress on the issue of mandatory arbitration of consumer disputes and authorizes the Bureau to "prohibit or impose conditions or limitations on the use of an agreement between a covered person and a consumer for a consumer financial product or service providing for arbitration of any future dispute between the parties" if the Bureau finds that "is in the public interest and for the protection of consumers."
You might recall that we posted back in March about healthcare reform amendments to the FLSA that require covered employers to provide lactation breaks and space for non-exempt employees who are nursing. The DOL has now issued a fact sheet explaining that obligation.
The fact sheet makes clear:
- That the FLSA's provisions don't preempt state laws that are more generous
- That the number and time for breaks will vary based on each woman's needs
- That a bathroom is not an acceptable location, nor is a space open to intrusion by others
- That employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the requirement if based on the size, financial resources, structure, and nature of the employer's business, complying would pose an undue hardship
- That these breaks need not be compensated, although if the employee gets compensated breaks and wishes to use them for nursing or expressing milk, the employer may not discriminate against this use
See the sheet itself for a more full explanation.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Colleen Medill (Nebraska) writes to let us know that the 2010 supplement to her excellent casebook, Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice (2d ed.) will be updated to include recent legislation.
I've received a number of individual inquiries concerning whether the Fall 2010 Supplement to my casebook will be updated for national health care reform legislation that was enacted in March. The answer is YES.
I am finalizing the Supplemental Materials and expect to have them posted on the casebook web site at http://www.medill-employee-benefits.com/login.asp by Wednesday, August 4th (if not earlier).
There is sometimes a delay between the posting of the materials and an e-mail announcement by West, so I wanted to make everyone aware of where they could find the Fall 2010 materials.
The Third Edition of the casebook will be published this fall and available for Spring 2011 adoptions. The Third Edition has been totally revised for national health care reform and other developments since the Second Edition was published in 2007.
Wow. That's a lot of work in a short period of time, and invaluable.