Every Kiss Begins with…. Sexual Harrassment

Sterling Jewelers, the parent company of Kay Jewelers, and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry has been sued for massive gender discrimination and sexual harassment spanning nearly 15 years.  According to the lawsuit, male employees consistently harassed and discriminated against female employees, who made complaints of verbal harassment, sexual assault, and rape. The class action lawsuit […]

College Football Players on Scholarship Deemed “Employees” With Right to Unionize

College Football Players on Scholarship Deemed Employees With Right to Unionize

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an unexpected decision surprising many, including football fans,  Chicago-area NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr has determined that Northwestern University football players who receive grant-in-aid are in fact employees of the University with the right to organize and form a union.

College sports programs across the country have for years adamantly asserted that student athletes are students, not employees, and that grant, scholarship, or other financial support is student aid, rather than compensation for athletic services. However, in evaluating the case, Ohr concluded that the Northwestern football program eclipsed the athlete’s other obligations, and that the University exercised enough control over football players to render them employees. Specifically, Ohr pointed to the following:

  • The fact that football players are not considered for admission unless and until they are recruited by the head coach;
  • The control exercised by coaches “over nearly every aspect of the players’ private lives” under threat of losing scholarships if they violate rules;
  • The large number of hours devoted to football related activities, which were approximately 40-50 hours per week during the season and 50-60 hours per week during training camp;
  • The fact that players under scholarship may not miss practice or games to attend class.

The Regional Director found that the players are under the University’s “strict and exacting control” throughout the entire year. He noted that football players are expected to adhere to detailed daily itineraries prepared by the coaches that specify “the location, duration, and manner” in which the players carry out their various football duties. Ohr further concluded that, unlike other students, football players are also subject to special rules, restrictions, and policies, including housing restrictions and mandatory study hall if they fail to maintain a certain GPA.

Northwestern has acknowledged the ruling and says it plans to appeal to the NLRB; their deadline to do so is April 9, 2014. Absent success in this challenge, Northwestern University grant-in-aid scholarship recipients in its football program will be entitled to conduct an NLRB election to determine whether they wish to elect a labor organization to represent them in their relationship with the University.

College Football Players on Scholarship Deemed Employees With Right to Unionize

California Assembly Approves Bill to Expand Paid Family Leave

California Assembly Approves Bill to Expand Paid Family LeaveThe California Assembly has passed a bill that would expand California’s Paid Family Leave law to offer additional leave for employees who are required to take time off to care for aging or ailing grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and in-laws.

The new bill keeps California in the lead in  the nation as one of the most pro-employee states,  providing benefits, social services, and protections to  employees.

Paid Family Leave in California began in 2002, when disability compensation was extended to cover individuals who take time off of work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child.  Senate Bill 1661 established the Paid Family Leave insurance program, also known as Family Temporary Disability Insurance program, to be administered by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. An estimated 13 million California workers who are covered by the SDI program have also been covered for Paid Family Leave insurance benefits as of July 1, 2004.

For California workers covered by SDI, Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance provides up to six weeks of benefits for individuals who must take time off to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child.

SOOFI | Legal Counsel represents clients  in numerous kinds of lawsuits and disputes involving some of the nation’s largest employers. Whether it is harassment, discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, wage/hour, or other claims, SOOFI | Legal Counsel is experienced in the field of employment and labor law and focused on providing high-quality legal service.

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For information on retaining SOOFI | Legal Counsel for any employment matter, contact or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.
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Judge Orders Wal-Mart Included in Labor Lawsuit Brought By 1,800 Temporary Warehouse Workers

Judge Orders Wal Mart Included in Labor Lawsuit Brought By 1,800 Temporary Warehouse Workers

Wal-Mart ordered into labor code violation lawsuit by California federal judge.

The stakes have been raised in a California federal lawsuit brought by thousands of temporary warehouse workers against Schneider Logistics, a warehouse logistics company serving mega-retailer Wal-Mart. On January 10, 2013, the Judge overseeing the case, Carillo v. Schneider Logistics, ordered that Wal-Mart could be included in the lawsuit, which alleges violations of overtime rules, meal/rest breaks, and other labor code violations on behalf of approximately 1,800 workers.

What is monumental about this case is that none of the workers worked for Wal-Mart directly. According to the lawyers for the workers, ““Walmart has the ultimate say in how the warehouse work will be conducted,” says Michael Rubin, a plaintiff lawyer for the workers at the San Francisco law firm Altshuler Berzon. “The evidence shows a remarkable degree of control by Walmart. As a matter of economic reality, which is the ultimate legal test, Walmart should be held liable.”


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