Category: Employment Agreements
The federal government continues to take aim at those who violate trade secrets rights. On December 28, 2012, the Theft of Trade Secrets Clarification Act of 2012 (S. 3642) became law, expanding the definition of trade secrets under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA). In addition, as previously reported in a Gibbons IP Law Alert blog, the President is expected to sign legislation recently passed by Congress that triples the damages for a violation of trade secrets protection laws and provides technical changes to patent applications and protections. Also worthy of note is an 82-page report from the U.S. Department of Justice issued last month detailing federal enforcement efforts concerning trade secrets theft.
Over the past two years, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) has attacked various employment policies of union and non-union employers alike, ranging from social media policies to policies that establish protocol for employees to follow when responding to media inquiries. The Board also has been critical of at-will language commonly found in employee handbooks and policies used by employers throughout the country. In light of the Board’s recent actions, some employers–particularly non-union employers that have not historically focused on Board developments–have begun to reassess policy language that has long existed in their handbooks. Due to a recent administrative law judge (“ALJ”) decision, employers should add employment agreements to their list of employment practices to review and Board developments to watch in 2013.
On January 3, 2012, The National Labor Relations Board issued its decision in, D.R. Horton, Inc. Case No. 12-CA-25764. This is a significant decision for all employers as it prohibits the use of class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. Specifically, the Board held that arbitration agreements that contain provisions that prohibit employees from filing joint, class or collective claims addressing their wages, hours or other working conditions against their employer, in any forum, violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
In the most recent issue of the New Jersey Labor & Employment Quarterly, Kelly Ann Bird and Zeenat Basrai analyze whether an employee can release claims under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) as part of a separation agreement. The scant caselaw construing USERRA has resulted in confusion over whether USERRA claims can be waived, and if so, what language a waiver must include to be enforceable. The article discusses practical steps employers can take to protect themselves from an employee bringing a USERRA claim after signing a separation or settlement agreement, such as drafting the waiver using clear and unambiguous language and giving the employee sufficient time to review and consider the agreement before signing it.