Workers across the country are winning major victories by defeating "no-poach" clauses. While corporations frequently broadcast their love of the free market economy when fighting against minimum wage laws, many of those same corporations undercut the free market by entering into what are called "no-poach" agreements with their competitors. A "no-poach" clause is an agreement between companies that they will not hire each others' employees. In short, it substantially reduces competition for workers in companies with "no-poach" clauses. Such clauses unfairly limit an employees' leverage to take their services elsewhere if their employers' competitor cannot hire them. "No-poach" clauses rig the system so that employers can artificially and unfairly keep wages low for their employees.
According to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, about 80 percent of fast-food workers are constricted by no-poaching clauses and about 58 of all franchises have "no-poach" clauses.
Last month, the Attorney General for the State of Washington settled a lawsuit against seven chains – including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr. and McDonald’s – requiring those companies to not enforce their "no poach" agreements. Under this settlement, "Companies must compete for workers just like they compete for customer," said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Industries such as rail transportation and information technology have also seen "no-poach" clauses invalidated. In Pennsylvania, three railroad companies have been sued for agreeing among themselves to not steal each others' employees. Additionally, several companies in Silicon Valley were stopped from enforcing their "no-poach" clauses by the Department of Justice.
If you or your union face a "no-poach" clause or suspect that your employer has somehow limited your ability to work for your competition, you should reach out to legal counsel immediately. This firm is happy to help.
The United States Supreme Court altered over forty years of precedent in its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. Prior to this travesty, the Supreme Court's decision in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209 (1977) was the law of the land. Under Abood, employees had a right to deny its union the power to use their dues for political use. They could instead opt to pay an "agency fee" which could only cover the costs the union incurred representing the employee, but not for any political activity. In Janus, the court reversed Abood and found that agency fees violate an employee's First Amendment rights. Now, labor unions, unlike any other entity in this country, will be forced to provide services to individuals for free.
What is important now is that labor unions and working families adapt to this new reality. More than ever, labor unions must look to show the value membership can provide. Smart unions can creatively show that value by providing free perks to members such as coupon books for union businesses or discounted legal services. When a labor union can easily show the value it provides its members, more employees will voluntarily maintain their membership.
Lastly, if you work for a labor union, you should be aware of the breadth of the Supreme Court's decision. Labor unions may now find it more difficult to enforce their maintenance of membership or dues check-off clauses in public-sector environments. Before enforcing either provision in your collective bargaining agreement, be sure to speak with legal counsel. This firm is happy to help.
The United States Supreme Court approved Ohio's voter purge plan making it more likely that eligible voters will be denied access to the polls. In Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Supreme Court approved Republican Ohio Secretary of State Husted's plan to remove registered voters from the voter rolls. According to the approved plan, if a voter fails to vote in three federal elections and fails to return an inquiry mailed by the Ohio Secretary of State (which looks like junk mail and will be frequently discarded), the state can lawfully remove your name as a registered voter.
The process will lead to a large number of eligible voters that are seniors or minorities being purged from the voter rolls. According to studies cited in the case, “African-American-majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati had 10% of their voters removed due to inactivity” since 2012, as “compared to only 4% of voters in a suburban, majority-white neighborhood.”
The best way to avoid being a victim of the voter roll purge is to vote in every election. The second best way to avoid the purge is to go to the following link and confirm you are a registered voter. It takes 2 minutes and will ensure your right to vote in the State of Ohio: CLICK HERE
The Supreme Court just decided a case which could have a massive impact on workers across the country. In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the Supreme Court found that employees can waive their right to litigate their discrimination or wage theft cases in federal court by signing an arbitration agreement with their employer. In the past, the Court had held that federal protection from discrimination could not be limited by a contract such as an arbitration agreement, but this decision changes that. Now, by signing an employer's arbitration agreement, you will no longer be able to bring any federal discrimination or overtime claim against your employer to court. Additionally, your employer can forbid you from joining any class or collective action lawsuit through such an arbitration agreement.
This is a devastating blow to workers. When an employer gives their employees an arbitration agreement to sign, they have all the negotiating power and can threaten their employees with termination if they fail to sign the agreement while the employees have little recourse. Now more than ever, employees should consider organizing a union at their workplace to help protect them from employers abusing their power to discriminate and/or steal your wages.
If you have any questions or your employer is requiring you to sign an arbitration agreement, you can contact the Hurm Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation.
In February of 2018, the United States Supreme Court considered a case which could have nation-wide repercussions for workers and their families. The matter is Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal, and County Employees and the central issue is whether employees are required to pay for the services unions provide or if unions will be required to work for free.
When a union is formed, individual employees may chose whether or not to pay membership dues and join the union. The union, on the other hand, is required to work on behalf of all, regardless of if they paid membership dues. If employees chose not to pay it membership dues to the union, the union still had to work on their behalf. This intolerable situation was resolved in a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, where the United States Supreme Court permitted unions to charge an "agency fee" to individuals who chose not to be members of the union. This fee covers bargaining and representational costs, but not political activity or lobbying. This decision balanced individual employees' right not to fund speech that they do not like, without forcing unions to work for free.
Business interests, ironically, believe unions should be forced to work for free (although they would never tolerate being forced to work for free themselves). They see this as an opportunity to finally defeat the middle classes' last bulwark; labor unions. They have created organizations that fund lawsuits challenging the Supreme Court's Abood decision. Janus is just such a case and challenges the constitutionality of the "agency fee." Should they succeed, unions will be forced to work for free and several will cease to exist.
Unions need to be prepared for this decision and plan accordingly. The Hurm Law Firm can guide you through the legal uncertainty left in Janus' wake.
Matthew T. Hurm, Esq.
Matthew T. Hurm, Esq. has represented employees, their unions, and fringe benefit funds since 2010. He has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. He works primarily on labor and employment, workers' compensation, pension and healthcare, and estate planning legal matters. Matt serves as a contributing editor to the leading labor law treatise, The Developing Labor Law and other significant legal references. He graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and has resided in Cleveland for seven years.