In an effort to resolve a hotly debated legal issue spanning decades for private college and university employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently released a proposed rule that would effectively block college students from unionizing.

The proposed regulation seeks to establish that undergraduate and graduate students who perform services, including teaching or research, for compensation in connection with their studies are not “employees” as defined under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The basis for the proposed rule is that the relationship these students have with their school is predominately educational rather than economic.

In announcing the proposed rule, NLRB Chairman John F. Ring stated: “In the past 19 years, the Board has changed its stance on this issue three times. This rulemaking is intended to obtain maximum input on this issue from the public, and then to bring stability to this important area of federal labor law.”

This is not a done deal, but the Republic majority NLRB will remain intact long enough to project a more than likely chance the proposed rule becomes final. The NLRB invites public comments on all aspects of the proposed rule, which must be received on or before November 22, 2019. Interested universities should consider filing a comment with the NLRB to make sure their voice is heard on this important issue.

We will continue to monitor developments concerning the proposed rule. As always, Murtha lawyers are available to discuss compliance with the NLRA and other relevant employment laws.

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Photo of Matthew K. Curtin Matthew K. Curtin

Matthew Curtin is a Partner in the Litigation Department, the Chair of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group.

In Matthew’s cybersecurity practice, he advises clients on compliance with state, federal and international privacy…

Matthew Curtin is a Partner in the Litigation Department, the Chair of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group.

In Matthew’s cybersecurity practice, he advises clients on compliance with state, federal and international privacy laws including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Matthew is particularly interested in advising his clients concerning employment privacy matters. Matthew is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

In Matthew’s labor and employment practice, he has successfully represented employers of all sizes concerning a wide variety of claims before state and federal courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Connecticut State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and other various administrative agencies.

Matthew has substantial experience with collective bargaining negotiations, labor arbitrations, and labor relations. He regularly counsels senior management and human resources professionals concerning employment contracts, employment policies, hiring and termination procedures, workplace investigations, and harassment and discrimination avoidance.

Matthew has significant experience representing businesses in litigation concerning trade secret theft, unfair competition, and breach of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements.

Photo of Chelsea K. Choi Chelsea K. Choi

Chelsea K. Choi is a member of the Firm’s Labor and Employment  Practice Group. She represents employers on a variety of matters including hiring, evaluation, discipline, layoff, and termination of employees.

Prior to joining Murtha Cullina, Chelsea was an associate and law clerk

Chelsea K. Choi is a member of the Firm’s Labor and Employment  Practice Group. She represents employers on a variety of matters including hiring, evaluation, discipline, layoff, and termination of employees.

Prior to joining Murtha Cullina, Chelsea was an associate and law clerk at prominent law firms in Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA. While in law school, she served as a Note Editor of The Western New England Law Review at Western New England School of Law. Chelsea received her B.A., cum laude, from Syracuse University, where she was a team member and co-captain of the Syracuse University Cheerleading Program.