Analysis and Commentary on Employment Law
Clear Skies or Stormy Weather? The FAA’s Transportation Worker Exception After Southwest Airlines v. SaxonPart Two of a Two-Part Series

In this second of a two-part series of columns on the Supreme Court’s decision in Southwest Airlines v. Saxon, Barry Winograd describes some of the problems posed by the Court’s decision and reasoning. As Mr. Winograd explains, the opinion fails to clarify the governing standard, omits altogether any consideration of the applicable Railway Labor Act, creates confusion as to the classification of supervisors, and does not adequately consider the effects on the “gig” economy.

Clear Skies or Stormy Weather? The FAA’s Transportation Worker Exception After Southwest Airlines v. SaxonPart One of a Two-Part Series

In this first of a two-part series of columns on the Supreme Court’s decision in Southwest Airlines v. Saxon, Barry Winograd summarizes the facts leading up to the case and the Court’s decision and reasoning. In particular, Mr. Winograd explains the two prior decisions addressing the FAA’s transportation worker exemption, Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, decided in 2001, concluding that the residual clause in Section 1 covers only transportation workers and not workers generally, and New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira, applying the exception to an interstate truck driver classified as an independent contractor and not an employee.

Employers Should Reconsider Plans to Discharge Employees for Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and attorney Troy Kessler argue that the termination of workers for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine often contravenes federal, state, and city laws. Professor Estreicher and Mr. Kessler point out that relevant law requires employers to carefully consider requests for religious or medical accommodations.

Substantial Questions of Statutory Authority Confront OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and 3L Ryan Amelio comment on the unusual move by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) decision to require employee vaccinations for employers with a total of 100 or more employees. Estreicher and Amelio explain why it is unclear whether the Agency has authority to mandate vaccinations and testing.

Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta: A Temporary Reprieve for California AB 51, Which Prohibits Conditioning Employment on the Waiver of the Right To Litigate?

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and appellate lawyers Rex Heinke and Susan Yorke discuss a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which the appellate court reinstated California AB 51, which prohibits employers from conditioning employment on an applicant’s waiver of various rights, including the right to litigate. The authors note that the ruling creates a circuit split and may even be at odds with recent Supreme Court case law.

The Justice Department’s OLC Thinks Your Company Can Mandate the COVID-19 Vaccine, Even If Not Fully Approved

Elena J. Voss, associate general counsel at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher, dissect an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel that squarely answers in the negative the question whether the Emergency Use Authorization status of COVID-19 vaccines precludes public or private entities from mandating those vaccines. Ms. Voss and Professor Estreicher point out that while the OLC opinion is neither binding nor authoritative, it is well-reasoned and indicative of the Biden administration’s view on this topic and can provide some assurance to employers who wish to implement a vaccine mandate.

Are Rideshare Drivers Like Uber’s and Lyft’s Subject to the Federal Arbitration Act?

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and appellate lawyers Rex Heinke and Jessica Weisel describe the uncertainty surrounding whether Uber and Lyft drivers are subject to the Federal Arbitration Act. The authors note the split of authority across the nation and note that, depending on the outcome of litigation in the Second, Third, and Eleventh Circuits, the question may soon come before the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve.

The Post-Pandemic Workplace

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and Elena J. Voss, associate general counsel for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, provide a roadmap of how employers can ready their workplaces for post-pandemic life. Professor Estreicher and Ms. Voss describe the importance of employers determining their workplace vision, communicating that vision to employees, defining what a “flexible” workplace means, setting clear policies with definitive maximums and minimums.

Members-Only Unionism is Lawful and Can Make Sense

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher responds to an op-ed by Ron Holland criticizing the recent announcement of a members-only union of 300 Google workers. Professor Estreicher points out several errors and assumptions in Mr. Holland’s piece, and he argues that, in sum, there is no good public policy case for barring or restricting members-only unionism.

NYC’s Mandatory Collective Bargaining Agreements in Fast-Food Shops?

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and adjunct professor Zachary Fasman comment on two bills passed by the New York City Council that would mandate detailed and extensive labor protections for fast-food workers in New York City. Professors Estreicher and Fasman praise the intent behind the laws but explain why the City Council is not the place where binding agreements governing private workplaces in the City should be enacted.

Election Day 2020: A Good Day to End the GOP’s War on Women

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman describes the myriad ways the Trump administration has harmed the interests of women and expresses hope that the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election will mark the end of the GOP’s war on women. Grossman notes that if Biden and the Democrats win the White House and Congress, they will have not only the opportunity but the obligation to restore what the modern GOP has destroyed.

In Ruth We Trust: How the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Can Promote Women’s Equal Citizenship and Justice Ginsburg’s Legacy

In honor of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman explains how the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) can promote women’s equal citizenship and protect Justice Ginsburg’s legacy of shaping gender equality. Grossman argues that the PWFA could help break down entrenched occupational segregation in the American economy, and, in so doing, honor Justice Ginsburg’s lifelong commitment to ensuring that women can be full members of society.

When Do Ministers Win and Lose?

UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Leslie C. Griffin describes the legal landscape after the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 2020 decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, in which the Court took an expansive view of the ministerial exception. Griffin describes two recent decisions by U.S. Courts of Appeals ruling in favor of an employee and against a religious employer, demonstrating that ministers still have a chance (albeit a small one) of winning their antidiscrimination lawsuits.

COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation in New York

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and rising 2L Christopher Ioannou discuss how New York workers’ compensation law might apply to workers infected with COVID-19. Estreicher and Ioannou argue that despite some shortcomings of the workers’ compensation system, we should not take for granted its ability to allow workers to quickly receive medical attention and some amount of lost wages.

Gay Pride, Gay Rights

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and University of Pittsburgh law professor Deborah L. Brake comment on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Grossman and Brake discuss the history of court decisions interpreting the meaning of “because of sex” under Title VII and describe the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Bostock v. Clayton County.

The Scope of Bostock v. Clayton County’s Contribution to LGBTQ Rights Is Not as Broad as You Might Think: Beware the “Super Statute” RFRA

University of Pennsylvania professor Marci A. Hamilton applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, holding that gay and transgender employees are protected under Title VII, but she cautions that that Bostock’s contribution to LGBTQ rights is curtailed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Hamilton calls for repeal, or at least significant reform, of RFRA to protect the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals restore the values of mutual dignity and respect enshrined in law.

How the EEOC’s Maintenance of an “Alleged Offenders” Log Can Help Prevent the Next Harvey Weinstein

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and recent graduate Joseph A. Scopelitis argue that the EEOC should maintain a log of “alleged offenders” to help prevent the next Harvey Weinstein. Estreicher and Scopelitis explain why such a log would effectively balance the interests of the alleged offender and victim, the employer, and the public.

Joint Employer Liability: Notes from Australia

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and Nicholas Saady, LLM, conduct a comparative analysis of the doctrine of joint employer liability, looking at the rules adopted by the U.S. Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board as compared to the approach Australia has taken in an analogous context, “accessorial liability” doctrine.

Paid Labor: Eleventh Circuit Protects Rights of Pregnant Worker

Joanna L. Grossman, law professor SMU Dedman School of Law, and Cynthia Thomas Calvert, principal of Workforce 21C and a senior advisor for family responsibilities discrimination to the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings, comment on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals by the Eleventh Circuit protecting the rights of a pregnant worker. Grossman and Calvert describe the lower court’s ruling and the appellate court’s decision reversing it, calling the decision “a step forward for the rights of pregnant women.”

Agency Guidance May Not Be Enough: Keeping Workers Safe and Avoiding Employer Workplace Liability During the COVID-19 Pandemic

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and 2L Elisabeth H. Campbell describe the wide array of laws that will need to come into play to keep workers safe and avoid employer liability as workplaces consider reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cautioning that compliance will not necessarily relieve employers of the risk of litigation and liability. Estreicher and Campbell discuss applicable recommendations, guidelines, and requirements set forth by such agencies as the U.S. Department of Labor, which is responsible for administering the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).

Meet our Columnists
Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973.... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He... more

Samuel Estreicher
Samuel Estreicher

Samuel Estreicher is the Dwight D. Opperman Professor, Director, Center for Labor and Employment... more

Leslie C. Griffin
Leslie C. Griffin

Dr. Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Professor Marci A. Hamilton is a Professor of Practice in Political Science at the University of... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of... more

Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat

Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately... more