Archive for December, 2012

WHAT A WAY TO END THE YEAR!

Over the course of this year I have written a lot about social media and labor law.  A couple of those posts have had to do with, as I put it, “gnashing of teeth” over employers requiring employees or applicants for employment to provide them with private passwords to social media accounts.  You can read those posts here and here.

Well, the gnashing of teeth is over here in Michigan.  On Friday Governor Snyder signed into law House Bill 5523.  This new law prohibits an employer or educational institution from requiring an employee or a student or an applicant to turn over a private social media password in order to get or keep a job or spot in a school.  I read somewhere, I can’t remember where, that this bill was a solution looking for a problem.  I’m inclined to agree.  I represent all kinds of clients all over this state, big and small, and I don’t know of a single one ever requiring that an employee or a candidate for employment turn over his or her Facebook password to get or keep a job.  But, the legislature and the Governor obviously thought it was important, so we now have Public Act 478 of 2012.

As I mentioned in April, the Act is pretty short.  It prohibits: “employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts; to prohibit employers and educational institutions from taking certain actions for failure to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts; and to provide remedies.”  Section 3 of the Act says:

Sec. 3. An employer shall not do any of the following:

(a) Request an employee or an applicant for employment to disclose access information associated with the employee’s or applicant’s social networking account.

(b) Discharge, discipline, fail to hire, or otherwise discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment for failure to disclose access information associated with the employee’s or applicant’s social networking account.

So there you go, the very last law signed by the Governor in 2012.

2013 can’t get here fast enough.

HOW ABOUT MY ‘RIGHT TO WORK’ ( OR NOT)

I’m pretty sure you have heard about this one.  Can’t open a paper without reading one side or the other.  Fortunately we have an expert.

Rob Dubault, a partner in our Muskegon office wrote and sent out to our clients an e-alert.  There is one update, of course. After  Rob wrote this yesterday afternoon, the Governor signed the bill.

Here you go, and thanks, Rob:

Michigan Becoming ‘Right to Work’ State

Michigan, the state recognized as the birthplace of the modern labor movement in America, will soon become the 24th Right-to-Work state. This afternoon, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed Right-to-Work legislation, which will allow workers in a collective bargaining unit the choice of opting in or out of union membership.

Under the legislation, which applies to public- and private-sector unions (with the exception of police and firefighter unions), an employee can no longer be required to join a union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Existing contracts that require employees to join or pay dues to a union are exempted until they are re-negotiated or extended. Senate Bill 116 and House Bill 4003, labeled “Freedom to Work” by supporters, are now on their way to Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. The Governor has said he plans to sign the legislation. Passage occurred as organized labor conducted one of the largest protests ever seen in the Capitol City.

The Governor and legislative leadership agreed to exempt police and firefighter unions over concern about Public Act 312 of 1969, which calls for binding arbitration to prevent a strike. In addition, the Governor and legislative leaders were concerned about the potential for dissention within the ranks of those who risk their lives for public safety. Critics of the legislation and of the carve out for police and firefighters say Public Act 312 has nothing to do with joining a union or paying dues and that there are other union members in different occupations who also risk their lives for public safety but are not exempted.

If you have questions about this legislation or another labor-related legal development, please contact Rob Dubault (rdubault@wnj.com or 231.727.2638) or any other member of the Labor Law Group at Warner Norcross & Judd.