Well, at least the first 19 days of 2017 were relatively calm. But starting with the inauguration of President Trump and continuing through the last days of the year, the state of labor and employment law was in a complete whirlwind. With all of this activity, you can be forgiven if you missed one or two (or a hundred) of the more important stories to impact the workplace. But never fear, because we compiled the top 100 all in one place, complete with links to all the details you need to keep your workplace in complete compliance.
- President Trump Takes Office – No single event impacted employers more than the change of occupants in the White House on January 20. Workplace law will continue to undergo radical transformation under his administration in 2018 and beyond, especially after Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, took the bench in April.
- "Overtime Rule" Gets Killed For Good...Or Does It? – The past year has seen the controversial rule, which would have changed pay practices for millions of Americans, struck down permanently by a federal court judge and repudiated by the new Labor Department (USDOL). But a pending appeal may preserve the Department's right to set a new rule. Look for a new salary level to be set sometime in the new year.
- White House Blocks Revised EEO-1 Report – In August, mere months before employers were slated to produce compensation data as part of their annual EEO-1 requirements, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shelved the rule. The OMB concluded the rule was unnecessary, burdensome, and raised privacy concerns. This is expected to embolden states and local governments to take up pay equity issues on their own, without federal assistance.
- Landmark Appeals Court Ruling Extends Title VII Protections To LGBT Employees – After the 11th Circuit refused to take the lead in this area with a ruling in March, the 7th Circuit became the first federal court of appeal to rule that sexual orientation claims are actionable under Title VII with its April 4 decision.
- New-Look NLRB Poised To Shake Up Labor Law Landscape – It took some time, but by the end of the calendar year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) included a majority of Republican appointees and a newly installed General Counsel. Employers can expect good things for the foreseeable future as the new Board is expected to reverse some of the many pro-union decisions of the past eight years.
- Supreme Court Agrees To Wade Into Class Waiver Conflict – In January, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) agreed to settle a dispute about whether employers can use mandatory class action waivers with their workers. The case was argued in early October, and a decision is expected in early 2018.
- Employers React To #MeToo Sexual Harassment Fallout – The sexual harassment scandal, which started in Hollywood and quickly spread to all corners of the country by November, caused all employers to rethink their approach to training and compliance.
- The Gig Economy Goes On Trial – A federal court trial in California against Grubhub, where a former delivery driver claimed he was misclassified as an independent contractor, could very well be the first such claim for the gig economy to reach a judicial merits determination. Although the ultimate decision by the judge will not necessarily make or break the gig model as a whole, the ruling (expected any day now) will be an important milestone.
- Federal Appeals Court Creates Troubling Joint Employment Standard – On January 25, a federal appeals court created a new and troubling standard for determining whether individuals should be considered "joint employees" of multiple entities. The new standard, which makes it far easier for employers to find themselves caught up as defendants in wage and hour claims, may very well be adopted by additional courts and leak into other areas of the country.
- Joint Employment Game Changer? – The House passed a bill in November that would significantly narrow the definition of "joint employment" to eliminate existing workplace headaches when it comes to federal wage and hour law and traditional labor law. If passed by the House and signed by Trump, it would significantly reduce the risk of unexpected and unwarranted legal claims in any business model where a claim of joint employment is a possibility.
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