Employement Law

NLRB Votes To Change Representation Election Proceedings

In another significant, recent development, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which keeps an eye on unfair labor practices has voted to change its rules regarding representation election proceedings. Representation election proceedings are elections in which employees of a company vote on whether or not they wish to be represented by a particular labor union. The NLRB is responsible for administering such proceedings. By making the changes outlined below, the NLRB voted to shorten the time frame between the filing of an election petition and the actual representation vote of the employees. The new rules will likely make it easier for unions to win representation elections and more difficult for employers to communicate with employees prior to the vote.

Specifically, the NLRB resolved to prepare a final rule to be published in the Federal Register that makes the following key changes to existing representation election procedures:

First, current procedures providing for pre-election appeals to the NLRB from the actions of the Regional Director on the election petition will be almost entirely eliminated. The new rules will provide for a single, discretionary appeal of pre-election and post-election issues after the votes are cast. Only a narrow avenue for pre-election appeals will remain: a pre-election appeal to the Board will be allowed on those issues that would otherwise escape Board review entirely if not raised at that time.

Second, current requirements that a representation vote by the employees cannot be held sooner than twenty-five (25) days after the Board’s Regional Director issues a “Direction of Election” (an NLRB Order directing that the representation vote will occur and providing guidance regarding how it will occur) will be eliminated. This generally means that elections will be held sooner after the Direction of Election is issued than is typically the case under the old rules.

Third, the Board will clarify that pre-election hearings will be held only to determine whether a question concerning representation exists. At the hearing, the hearing officer has authority to exclude evidence that does not have relevance to a genuine issue of fact material to that issue. As a result, many issues of individual voter eligibility (as opposed to voting unit composition) may be deferred to the post-election procedures rather than litigated prior to the vote. The parties will only have a discretionary right to file a post-hearing brief.

Some of the more controversial provisions of the original proposed rule were not adopted – for the time being. These include: (1) the requirement that a hearing be held within seven days of the filing of a union’s representation petition; (2) permitting the union’s petition to be filed electronically rather than filing by hand or regular mail; (3) the requirement that the employer prepare and file a comprehensive “statement of position” on the union’s election petition no later than the date of the hearing, with any other issues being waived if omitted from the position statement; (4) the requirement that unions be given employees’ email addresses and telephone numbers prior to the election (as opposed to merely a list of eligible voters with the employees’ full name and residential address); and (5) the requirement that the voter eligibility list be given to the union within two work days of the Direction of Election instead of the current rule allowing seven work days.

Even though some of the more controversial provisions were omitted from the proposed rule, it is clear that elections will now be held more quickly after the election petition is filed, although the precise time frames will differ in each case.

The NLRB will proceed to draft a final rule and will “defer the remainder of the proposed rule for further consideration.” This means that the more onerous parts of the proposed rule will likely be considered at a later time.

Severance Pay

Severance pay amounts vary depending on the length of employment before separation, contract stipulations, and on salary. The age and seniority of the terminated employee are definite factors as well when determining how much severance is owed. Being that the ultimate goal of termination pay and severance is to provide an employee time to find a different job, age plays a large role because it becomes more difficult the older you get.

Age and length of service increase the severance amount. In the case of a 59 yr old rabbi who was let go after 26 years of service, the court decided that even though his employer gave notice 9 months prior to termination, it was inadequate and required them to pay the rabbi the remainder of 30 months of severance. Because the rabbi never “intended to be employed for a limited term” and considered an indefinite term employee, he was eligible to receive severance pay. Contrasting this, another case found that a 29 year old store manager with five years of service was eligible for 5 months of severance pay, even though the circumstances surrounding his termination were… much less favourable than that of the rabbis (The store manager was falsely accused of sexual harassment).

According to Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), employees are eligible for severance pay if the business they worked for goes bankrupt. Stating that, “former employees are entitled to make claims for termination pay (including vacation pay due thereon) and severance pay as unsecured creditors.” In this case, Rizzo Shoes went bankrupt suddenly and many employees were ‘economically dislocated’ because of it. Qualifying them as unsecured creditors allowed employees to pursue severance claims against Rizzo.

Eligibility aside, the amount of severance varies on a case-by-case basis. Consideration is given to the length of employment, age and chances of the terminated employee to procure new work, and the circumstances surrounding the dismissal. Judicial discretion plays a role as well.

Cases show that employers terminate workers for serendipitous and bizarre reasons. A case mentioned on involves a worker being terminated due to obesity. The employer went on, stating,” ability to properly perform his duties was significantly impaired by the plaintiff’s physical condition.” This is more of an exception than the rule, but as you can see the grounds for dismissal in an employer’s mind can vary greatly.

An attorney experienced with employment law will have a good idea of what severance pay you are entitled to.

Making a Professional Negligence Claim Against A Surveyor

Numerous scenarios can lead to grounds for legal claim of negligence against your surveyor. This particular type of negligence can take place in many different forms.

Essentially, surveyors are professionals who offer advice and services in relation to the building or valuation of both residential and commercial property.

Surveyor negligence can often be quite complicated as it encompasses such as large industry; as surveyors are linked to the construction industry, the claims in question can sometimes also include other professionals such as architects, engineers, planning officers, project managers, builders and more. The cases often also incorporate elements of property and planning law, which is why it is so important to make sure you use good, professional negligence lawyers if you think you have a case of surveyor negligence.

Experienced lawyers will be able to look at your case in more detail in order to decide on the best way to proceed with it. As well as negligence, you might find it also involves property lawyers or lawyers who are experts in planning laws, depending on the exact nature of the claim and the various professionals involved. The first task of your lawyers will be to look at all of the relevant evidence and see whether you do have a case of surveyor negligence.

If they decide that you have a valid claim, investigations will start into what happened and expert advice might be sort, depending on the case and whether further information is required. Your lawyers will also inform the surveyor and any other professionals in question about the claim being bought against them as they have to be given a chance to respond and conduct their own investigations, as well as seeking legal advice.

Depending on your particular case, you might find it is relatively simple to settle or that it is more complex and might end up in court. This can sometimes happen has surveyor negligence can include quite a few different things and so making a professional negligence claim can be complicated. For instance, you might be able to bring a claim against a surveyor for providing defective surveys or plans that were misleading, producing poor certificates or inadequate designs, undervaluing the cost of work or failing to consider environmental issues that might affect a project.

As it isn’t always perfectly clear whether a surveyor’s action counts as negligence, it is important that the process of the claim is carried out properly to make sure they have adequate chance to make their own case and provide evidence to back up their actions. If they fail to do this, it makes your chances of a successful conclusion to your professional negligence claim more likely.