NLRB Strikes Down Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Preventing Class Action, What Should Employers Do?

By Hanok George, Albany Government Law Review

On January 3, 2012, in D.R. Horton, Inc. and Michael Cuda, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that certain mandatory arbitration agreements that prevent employees from filing group or class actions in a judicial forum violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).[1]  The ruling essentially bans employment agreements used by many companies that require employees to individually arbitrate all work-related claims.[2]  The Board’s ruling significantly alters what has become a “common dispute resolution practice for many employers” and is effectively skirting the U.S. Supreme Court’s favorable outlook towards arbitration of employment claims.[3]  Companies are undoubtedly angered by this new decision; many denounced the ruling saying “it is an invitation to vast class action lawsuits on issues that could be resolved out of court.”[4]  It is also argued by the respondent in this case and by supporting amici that this decision is in conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).[5]  However, the Board holds that its ruling is not in violation of either statute.  In light of this decision, what should employers do to protect their arbitration agreements? Continue reading “NLRB Strikes Down Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Preventing Class Action, What Should Employers Do?”

Taking Work Home With You

By Beth Ensell, Albany Government Law Review

On November 23, 2011, the New York Appellate Division, Third Department issued a decision that allows employers to investigate employee misconduct using Global Positioning System (“GPS”) devices without first obtaining permission from the employee or a court.[1]  The investigation at issue in the appeal centered on Michael Cunningham, the former Director of Staff and Organizational Development for the New York State Department of Labor.[2]  Mr. Cunningham’s employer suspected that he engaged in “a pattern of taking unauthorized absences from work as well as falsifying time records.”[3]  The New York Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), after receiving the case by referral, decided to use a GPS device to assist in gathering evidence against Mr. Cunningham.[4] Continue reading “Taking Work Home With You”

New York State’s Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

By Diana Filkins, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

On Saturday, March 12, a bus returning from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut flipped on its side on a busy highway in the Bronx.[1]  It continued to slide until it hit a metal traffic pole, at which point the top of the bus was severed.[2]  Fifteen people were killed while dozens of others were injured.[3]  The driver told authorities that he had to swerve after being hit by another vehicle, yet other passengers report that the driver had already swerved several times for no reason and had been driving erratically.[4]  Authorities investigated how much sleep the driver had the night before.[5]  In addition, the driver had been convicted of manslaughter and grand larceny in the past, as well as receiving a traffic ticket for driving without a license in 1995.[6]  Due to his traffic violations, his license was suspended and he should not have been driving the bus.[7] Continue reading “New York State’s Commercial Driver’s License Requirements”

A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript

Special Guest Post by Doug Gladstone, author: A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve, and panelist for The Albany Government Law Review Spring Symposium: Baseball & the Law: America’s National Pastime.

On Thursday, April 21, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced, with much fanfare, that they would be giving all those men who played in “The Show” from 1947-1979, who had more than one day of service credit but less than four years, and who were therefore unable to qualify for MLB pensions, payments of up to $10,000 each for the next two years, depending on their respective lengths of service. The issue of these inactive, non-vested retirees was why I was on the “Legal State of Our National Pastime” panel at  Baseball & The Law: America’s National Pastime symposium held on Monday, April 11 in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom at Albany Law School.

As the author of the book widely credited with helping spur MLB to pay these men the monies they’re about to receive, I’ve naturally been asked what I thought about the announcement quite a bit over the last week or so. Admittedly, I have mixed emotions about it. Obviously, given the continuing national recession in this country, there are very few people nowadays who would turn up their noses at an extra $10,000 per year. But that pales in comparison to what some of these men could have received if they were just restored back into pension coverage.

Take Tom Bruno, for instance. A native of Chicago who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays, Bruno finished his career having accrued three years and 161 days of service. He fell one game short of meeting the vesting requirement. One game. Based on a report which indicated that the average baseball retiree was making $30,000 in 2006, you know what a onetime retroactive check would be worth to a guy like Bruno?  If you answered, “$900,000,” you’ll realize why I’m not so impressed that he’s getting $10,000.

For the record, Major League Baseball is a $7 billion industry. Today’s player makes, on average, $3.3 million. You know what the most Tom Bruno ever made was? Only $65,000. These days, men like Ryan Howard ($125 million over five years), Matt Holiday ($120 million over seven years) and A-Rod ($27.5 million per year) are commanding what some would perceive are ridiculously obscene salaries. And part of the reason they’re able to earn that kind of money is due to men like Bruno, who frequently went without checks during work stoppages because he realized that a union is supposed to go to bat, not only for future players, but for past players as well.

Continue reading “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript”