Cincinnati (513) 721-1975 (map)
Dayton (937) 228-3731 (map)
Denver (303) 357-2355 (map)

NLRB Says Graduate Students Are Employees

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week the National Labor Relations Board held that graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants at private universities are employees and have the right to engage in collective bargaining. The Board found that the student assistants were employees where they “perform work, at the direction of the university, for which they are compensated.” It further held that, even though they were students as well, “statutory coverage is permitted by virtue of an employment relationship” and “is not foreclosed by the existence of some other, additional relationship that the Act does not reach.” Seems simple enough, but it isn’t. In fact, the Board has reversed itself on this issue several times in the last 16 years. The current Board says that the prior ruling holding that teaching and research assistants were not employees lacks any convincing justification for the ruling and deprives an entire category of workers of the protections afforded to employees. In the prior decision the Board said teaching and research assistants could not be employees because their primary relationship with the university was an educational one rather than an economic one.


Randy Freking Invited to Roundtable Discussion with Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez

Freking Myers & Reul

UPDATE:  Live feed of the roundtable discussion will begin at 11:30 a.m.  Follow this link:

On Wednesday, July 20, United States Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, will hold an open press round table discussion concerning local and national efforts to advance paid family leave. Secretary Perez will be joined by Ohio lawmakers, business owners, workers that are impacted by paid leave, and Randy Freking of Freking Myers & Reul.

The event will take place at Union Hall in Cincinnati (1311 Vine Street) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

As a participant in the roundtable discussion, Randy will share his belief that paid family leave is good for business by recruiting and retaining outstanding employees. “The shame of the Family and Medical Leave Act is that it only provides 12 weeks of job protection and, worse, does not require that employees be paid during their medical leave. At our firm, we provide for paid leave of at least 90 days and it has resulted in an outstanding record of employee retention. It’s the right thing to do.”



The EEOC’s Landmark Sexual Orientation Discrimination Settlement

Elizabeth Newman Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although this position has not always found support in court, the EEOC filed two lawsuits this spring to enforce its interpretation. Jon Allison blogged about it here.

Late last month, the EEOC settled one of these landmark cases. In EEOC v. Pallet Companies d/b/a IFCO Systems, the EEOC alleged that an employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining to her employer. The settlement agreement requires the employer to pay $182,200 in damages to the employee, as well as $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.

According to EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, this settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Even though a court did not weigh in on the matter, this historic settlement could indicate that the EEOC’s interpretation is gaining ground. The EEOC received 1,181 complaints of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation last year—a number almost certain to grow. The other lawsuit filed by the EEOC asserting sexual orientation discrimination is still pending in Pennsylvania.


U.S. Women’s Soccer Stars Fight For Equal Pay

Katherine Neff

On March 31, 2016, five players from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying them less than their male counterparts in violation of the Equal Pay Act.

Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are all members of the World Cup championship team, have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate for higher wages through their union. The fact that these players have a collective bargaining agreement, and subsequent memorandum of understanding may have an impact on their Equal Pay Act claims.

The pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams is astounding. For example, each year, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams are required to play a minimum of 20 friendly matches. The top five players from the men’s team receive $406,000 in compensation on average per year for these games, compared to the top five women who receive only $72,000. For a World Cup victory, a male U.S. soccer player could earn $390,000, while Lloyd, for example, only earned $75,000 for last year’s World Cup victory. Further, men on the U.S. team earn $69,000 for making the Word Cup roster, while the women only receive $15,000.

Although the men’s World Cup generates more money globally than the women’s event, the U.S. Soccer Federation has forecasted that the men’s U.S. Soccer team will lose approximately $1 million in 2017, while the women’s team will generate a profit of $5.2 million.

We will have to see whether the collective bargaining agreement and/or memorandum of understanding (in which the union agreed to this compensation) will impact the claims alleged by the five players, or if the U.S. Soccer Federation will come to an agreement with the players before either the EEOC or a court weighs in. For more information, read these articles from Forbes, The New York Times and NPR.


Judges Face Age Discrimination Too

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Judge Peter O’Connell (67 years of age) filed a lawsuit last week in Michigan challenging a Michigan rule that prevents judges 70 years of age or over from running for re-election. The age restriction was put in place in 1955. In 2014, the age restriction prevented 24 Michigan judges from seeking re-election (4% of sitting judges were 70 or older at the time). Currently, judges are the only state employees with an age restriction in Michigan. Last year two joint resolutions were introduced in the State Legislature (one in the House and one in the Senate) that would allow voters to either raise the age restriction to 75 or remove it completely. The Michigan Judges Association supports the removal of the age restriction entirely. The reality is people are living longer and are able to be productive later in life. Age restrictions like this just don’t make sense.  Find out more here.