Today’s News and Commentary — January 3, 2017

Law360 published a list of employment cases to watch in 2017. The upcoming attractions include the ongoing debate over class action waivers, the NLRB’s decision regarding joint employer liability in Browning-Ferris, whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars employers from discriminating against an employee because of his or her sexual orientation, and more. The article predicts that although the regulatory pendulum will likely swing back toward the management side given the inclination of the incoming administration, several pending cases could have greater impact than any regulation.

In France,  a new labor law gives employees the “right to disconnect” from email, smartphones, and other electronic devices once their work day has ended. The rule requires companies with 50 or more employees to negotiate new out-of-office email guidelines with staff and to regulate outside use to ensure employees are taking off. According to CNN, the law is a victory for French unions, which have long complained that the digital revolution demands employees continue to work even outside of work hours—which in France is 35 hours a week. Several businesses are planning to shut their email systems down overnight to prevent anyone from violating company policy.

The Editorial Board of the New York Times published an opinion piece raising concerns that President-Elect Trump severely misunderstands and underestimates his soon-to-be employees—federal government workers. Citing Mr. Trump’s promises to pay off the $19 trillion national debt merely by targeting federal agency “waste, fraud, and abuse,” threats of a blanket hiring freeze to an already-declining civilian federal workforce, and a series of requests from his transition team for lists of employees working on climate change initiatives and programs promoting gender equality,” the Editorial Board described “bizarre moves that have unnerved the federal work force.” The Board further encouraged the incoming administration to take a broad look at the bureaucracy, and to seek ways to make the machinery more effective by engaging the agencies and lifting up their missions.