Daily Archives: December 21, 2012

Unlimited FDIC insurance on IOLTA accounts likely to expire

Lawyer IOLTA accounts that help fund civil legal aid and other legal programs are likely to lose their unlimited federal insurance coverage on Jan. 1.

The ABA Governmental Affairs Office says it appears unlikely that lawmakers will act this year to extend the unlimited coverage provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to an ABA statement.

If Congress does not act, the amount of FDIC insurance available will be $250,000 per client, per financial institution, as long as the account is properly designated as a trust account and there is a proper accounting of each client’s funds.

IOLTA grants totaled $125 million last year.  About 90% of the money supports legal aid offices and pro bono programs.

via Unlimited FDIC Insurance on IOLTA Accounts Likely to Expire; $250K Will Be New Client Coverage Limit – News – ABA Journal.

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Filed under attorneys, courts, District Court, Pending Legislation

No Probable Cause vs. 1st and 4th amendment?

This is an interesting decision, allowing the first and fourth amendment claims of Port Militarization Resistance, an anti-war group, to go ahead.

The lawsuit arose when allegedly two civilian U.S. Army employees (Towery and Rudd) spied on the anti-war members and secretly disrupted protests.  The anti-war group was protesting the use of sea ports in Washington State for shipments of military supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lawsuit alleges defendants befriended the anti-war group and “influenced and directed” tactics to disrupt protests without cause, and that defendants broke into a confidential attorney-client list serve.

The district court dismissed most of the claims, but allowed First and Fourth Amendment allegations against Towery and Rudd to go ahead, despite their motion for qualified immunity.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Ninth Court stated,

“It is clearly established that intentionally enabling arrests without probable cause in order to suppress speech violates the First Amendment,” the unsigned and unpublished opinion from Seattle states.

“Plaintiffs have pled a plausible violation of their clearly established First Amendment rights,” the ruling states. “Plaintiffs have alleged that defendants ‘deterred or chilled the plaintiff’s political speech’ and that such deterrence motivated defendants’ conduct.”

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under Appellate, civil rights, District Court, legal decision, Privacy Rights

NLRB Clarifies Social Media Case Analysis

I mentioned this case before in a prior post.  Nevertheless, it warrants a follow up post dealing specifically with this case: Hispanic United of Buffalo.

In Hispanic United of Buffalo,the NLRB clarified the analysis for Facebook and other social media cases.

The facts are fairly typical for the increasing number of Facebook cases.  One employee had been complaining about the performance of co-workers and informed one of them that she was going to report her criticisms to the boss.  The co-worker posted a message on her Facebook page noting the criticism, saying she had “about had it,” and asking her fellow co-workers how they felt.  Four of them posted a defense of their work on the Facebook page, all while off-duty and on their own computers.  The employer fired all five for bullying the critical employee on Facebook.

All three Board members (Block, Griffin, and Hayes) agreed that the usual analysis for Section 8(a)(1) terminations–Meyers Industries–is applicable.  There wasn’t much discussion on this point, which is not surprising, as there is really nothing special about using social media other than it’s newer and cooler than more traditional forms of communication.  This essentially confirms what the General Counsel and many commentators (including yours truly) has been saying for a while, but it’s obviously a lot more helpful for the Board to make that clear.

via Workplace Prof Blog: NLRB Clarifies Social Media Case Analysis.

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Filed under labor, legal decision, NLRB, Privacy Rights, union

NLRB holds dues check-off survives CBA expiration

Recently, the NLRB released its decision (3-1) in WKYC-TV, in which the NLRB reversed the long-standing rule Bethelem Steel that agreements for dues checkoffs will not continue after the contract expires.

The new rule will not apply to pending cases.   The essence of the majority decision is that because dues checkoffs are mandatory subjects of bargaining, the normal Katz rule for such topics–that they must continue while a new contract is being negotiated–should apply unless there is a reason for an exception; the majority found that there wasn’t.  In making this conclusion, the majority distinguished clauses that involved the waiver of rights, like no-strike clauses.  The majority also criticized Bethelem Steel for treating dues checkoff provisions the same as union security clauses (in part because of its reading of Sections 8(a)(3) and 302(c)).

Member Hayes dissented, arguing that there was no evidence that the old rule wasn’t working. Further, he disagreed with the majority’s statutory interpretation.  He also stressed that limiting dues checkoffs to an active collective-bargaining agreement was more consistent with the concept of voluntary unionism.

via Workplace Prof Blog: Dues Check-Off Now Survives Contract Expiration.

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Filed under labor, legal decision, NLRB, union

TN County agrees to reform judicial system

The ABA Journal Blog reports on a ground-breaking agreement between TN Shelby County and the US Dep’t of Justice.  The agreement regards the juvenile judicial system, includes the following provisions:

  • Teens will be advised of their Miranda Rights;
  • Teens will get a probable cause hearing on detention within 48 hours; and
  • Teens will get help from specially trained public defenders.

This agreement arose from a federal investigation which found the following:

  • Black teens were twice as likely as white teens to be detained;
  • Black teens were transferred to adult criminal court for low-level offenses;
  • Black teens were subjected to unnecessary restraints;
  • Black teens were not advised of their Miranda rights; and
  • Black teens were held in detention on weekends and holidays because no probable cause hearings were held.

via A Tennessee County Agrees to Grant New Protections to Accused Juveniles in Template for Reform – News – ABA Journal.

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Filed under civil rights, legal decision

John Smith appointed to Court of Appeals

The Minnesota Lawyer Blog reports on the most recent appointment to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Judge John P. Smith was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Smith will replace  Judge  Wilhelmina M. Wright, who was appointed earlier this year to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Smith has served on the Ninth  District Court for over 21 years. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arne Carlson in 1991, and has served as chief judge and assistant chief judge. He has is currently  president of the Minnesota District Judges Association.

via John Smith appointed to Court of Appeals – MinnLawyer Blog.

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Filed under courts, Judges, Minnesota

NLRB recent decisions

This is the list of the most recent and significant decisions decided by the NLRB:

Hispanics United of BuffaloThe Board found that the employer unlawfully fired five employees because of their Facebook posts and comments about a coworker who intended to complain to management about their work performance. In its analysis, the Board majority applied settled Board law to the new world of social media, finding that the Facebook conversation was concerted activity and was protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Member Hayes dissented.

Alan Ritchey, Inc. – In a unanimous decision that resolved the last of the two-member cases returned following the 2010 Supreme Court decision in New Process Steel, the Board found that where there is no collectively-bargained grievance-arbitration system in place, employers generally must give the union notice and an opportunity to bargain before imposing discipline such as a discharge or suspension on employees. Member Hayes was recused.

Latino Express In a decision that will affect most cases in which backpay is awarded, the Board decided to require respondents to compensate employees for any extra taxes they have to pay as a result of receiving the backpay in a lump sum. The Board will also require an employer ordered to pay back wages to file with the Social Security Administration a report allocating the back wages to the years in which they were or would have been earned. The Board requested briefs in this case in July 2012. Member Hayes did not participate in the case.

Chicago Mathematics & Science Academy – Rejecting the position of a teachers’ union, the Board found that it had jurisdiction over an Illinois non-profit corporation that operates a public charter school in Chicago. The non-profit was not the sort of government entity exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, the Board majority concluded, and there was no reason for the Board to decline jurisdiction. Member Hayes dissented in part.

United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital) – The Board, with Member Hayes dissenting, addressed several issues involving the rights of nonmember dues objectors under the Supreme Court’s Beck decision. On the main issue, the majority held that, like all other union expenses, lobbying expenses are chargeable to objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment. The Board invited further briefing from interested parties on the how it should define and apply the germaneness standard in the context of lobbying activities.

WKYC-TV, Gannet Co. Applying the general rule against unilateral employer changes in terms and conditions of employment, the Board found that an employer’s obligation to collect union dues under a check-off agreement will continue after the contract expires and before a bargaining impasse occurs or a new contract is reached. Member Hayes dissented.

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Filed under labor, legal decision, NLRB, union