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Federal Court upholds NLRB poster requirement but strikes down penalties

On March 2, 2012, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., upheld the statutory authority of the National Labor Relations Board to require all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act to display a poster informing employees of their rights under the Act. However, the court struck down two of the penalty provisions included in the Board's final rule (published on August 30, 2011). The effective date of the NLRB's rule is April 30, 2012 pending the outcome of the litigation.

In a more recent decision, the South Carolina Federal District Court broadly ruled that the NLRB simply does not have the statutory authority to require employers to post a notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The two district court decisions directly conflict with each other on the fundamental question of the NLRB's authority to promulgate a notice posting requirement.

JUST IN 4/20/2012 - Court Order Postpones NLRB's Notice-Posting Rule

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted an emergency motion barring the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from enforcing a rule requiring most private employers to post an NLRB-drafted notice informing employees of certain rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This follows a South Carolina federal district court decision broadly ruling that the NLRB simply does not have the statutory authority to require employers to post a notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The court decision directly conflicted with an earlier decision in Washington, D.C. federal district court.

Shortly after the D.C. Circuit announced its decision, the NLRB issued a press release announcing that the NLRB would not implement the rule, originally scheduled to take effect on April 30, pending resolution of the issues before the Circuit Court in that case. The NLRB also has announced its intention to appeal the district court's decision in South Carolina.

Don't run afoul of GINA with new FMLA forms

Employers had expected that the new FMLA forms would reference the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) safe harbor language. But they don't, leaving it up to employers to amend the forms themselves to ensure they don't run afoul of the law. It's not uncommon for employers to inadvertently obtain genetic information when they request that healthcare providers complete certification forms. The safe harbor language can prevent that from happening.

Methylene chloride-related deaths prompt warning

Bathtub refinishers may be at risk for exposure to methylene chloride from paint-stripping products, according to an article published in the Feb. 24 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Each of the 13 methylene chloride-related deaths among bathroom refinishers from 2000 to 2011 occurred in a residential bathroom with inadequate ventilation, the report found. Workers also lacked adequate protective equipment, such as respirators.

The report recommended that worker safety and public health agencies, as well as manufacturers and trade groups, communicate the hazards to employers, workers and consumers. Employers are advised to comply with OSHA's Methylene Chloride Standard (1910.1052) and to consider alternative methods of bathroom stripping.

Carpal tunnel common among Latino poultry-processing workers: study

Latino poultry-processing workers are twice as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome as their peers in other industries, according to research from Wake Forest University. The prevalence of CTS was 8.7 percent among poultry workers, compared with 4.0 percent in the other manual-labor occupations,

Among poultry workers, CTS was more common for workers who performed strenuous and repetitive hand movements than those whose duties included packing, sanitation and chilling. The study appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Working overtime may increase depression: report

Working long hours may cause people to experience major depressive episodes, according to research published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers analyzed data from a study that surveyed about 2,000 people who were monitored for major depressive episodes. They found the risk of a major depressive episode was 2.43 times higher for individuals who worked 11 or more hours per day, compared with employees working seven to eight hours per day.

Adjustments were made for socio-demographic factors, along with chronic physical diseases, cigarette and alcohol consumption, job strain, and work-related social support, which had little effect on the association between depression and overtime work, researchers stated.

Record $8.9 million settlement in California

Attorney Christopher Asvar secured the highest known workers' compensation insurance settlement in California history, totaling $8.9 million on behalf of his young client who suffered a workplace traumatic brain injury when he fell 20 feet from a scaffold while employed as a painter. The worker suffered from depression, cognitive deficits, anxiety, psychosis, self-mutilation and a psychiatric diagnosis of multiple personality disorder.