Changing Regulations Dominate Cornell Labor and Employment Roundtable

Aug 19, 2016

Contact: Erica Heim, 607.255.6574,

Changing Regulations Dominate Cornell Labor and Employment Roundtable

Ithaca, NY, August 19, 2016 - Tighter interpretations of labor regulations by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) engaged participants in the 14th annual Labor and Employment Roundtable, hosted by the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations (CIHLER) at the School of Hotel Administration. A full explanation of the roundtable’s deliberations is found in a report that is available at no charge from CIHLER and Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research, CIHLER Roundtable Highlights: Dealing with Shifting Labor Employment Sands, by David Sherwyn.

Roundtable chair and CIHLER Director David Sherwyn focused the discussion on the potential effects of the NLRB’s ruling regarding potential joint employer status of franchisors and franchisees. At issue is the level of control that each party maintains over the employees’ working conditions. In one ruling, the NLRB determined that Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) was a joint employer of certain employees that BFI had leased from another firm. The NLRB determined that BFI had maintained control over some of those employees’ working conditions—making it a joint employer. Roundtable participants then looked at the implications of that case for franchisors, since NLRB has also turned its attention to McDonald’s. This is a complicated matter, and the situation is still in flux, since merely enforcing franchise system standards could be interpreted as exerting control over a franchisee’s employees.

The roundtable also reviewed changes in union organizing rules. Another ruling by the National Labor Relations Board has shortened the campaign time for union elections. The telescoped union campaigns are supposed to benefit the unions, but a CIHLER analysis found that so far there’s no indication that the change has affected the overall outcome of union election campaigns. Additionally, organizers of hotel union campaigns seek to avoid outright voting in favor of a card-check approach.

Finally, the roundtable members examined the effects of two rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. In both cases, the Court affirmed the importance of appropriate accommodations for protected workers. While this is not a new law, the Court addressed protection of pregnant workers and those whose religious beliefs require modest accommodations. When employers implement policies for those with illness or medical conditions, the Court affirmed that policies must be consistent with regard to how on-job and off-job health issues are treated. In the other case, the Court looked at a situation where an employer declined to hire a woman wearing a headscarf on the assumption that she would need a religious accommodation. The Court frowned on the idea that the employer would take religious accommodations into account when deciding whether to hire a person.

About the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations
The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations was established in 2013 as a platform for students, employers, employees, unions, and their advocates involved in the hospitality industry. The institute’s mission is to support educational programs, sponsor and disseminate research, and hold conferences and roundtables dedicated to modernizing labor and employment relations, analyzing labor and employment law, and improving human resource management and leadership in the hospitality industry. To achieve this goal, the institute supports classes focusing on labor and employment relations; disseminates empirical, theoretical, and doctrinal scholarship; and sponsors conferences and roundtables.

Center Members: Barnes & Thornburg LLP • The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows • Buchalter Nemer PC • Caesars Entertainment Corporation • Conn Maciel Carey PLLC • The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas • Davis & Gilbert LLP • Deloitte LLP • Destination Hotels • Epstein Becker Green • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts • Fox Rothschild LLP • Hilton Worldwide • Hotel Bel-Air • Hyatt Hotels Corporation • InterContinental Hotels Group • Interstate Hotels & Resorts • Jones Day • Kane Kessler, P.C. • Littler Mendelson • Loews Corporation • LRP Publications • Marriott International • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP • PwC • Proskauer • Regan Development Corporation • Seaview Investors LLC • Starwood Hotels and Resorts • Sunstone Hotel Investors • Taylor English Duma LLP • White Lodging

About the Center for Hospitality Research
The purpose of the Center for Hospitality Research is to enable and conduct research of significance to the global hospitality and related service industries. CHR also works to improve the connections between academe and industry, continuing the School of Hotel Administration's long-standing tradition of service to the hospitality industry. Founded in 1992, CHR remains the industry's foremost creator and distributor of timely research, all of which is posted at no charge for all to use. In addition to its industry advisory board, CHR convenes several industry roundtables each year for the purpose of identifying new issues affecting the hospitality industry.

Center Members: Accenture • Access Point Financial, Inc. • Barclaycard US • Cvent • Davis & Gilbert LLP • Deloitte & Touche USA LLP • DerbySoft • Duetto • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts • Fox Rothschild LLP • Hilton Worldwide • Host Hotels & Resorts • Hyatt Hotels Corporation • IDeaS Revenue Solutions • InterContinental Hotels Group • Jumeirah Group • Marriott International • NTT DATA • Preferred Hotels & Resorts • • PwC • The Rainmaker Group • RateGain • ReviewPro • Sabre Hospitality Solutions • STR • Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces • Tata Consultancy Services • Wipro EcoEnergy • Wyndham Hotel Group