While employees are an integral part of the manufacturing process, employment related issues will continue to face automotive suppliers in 2015 including:

  1. The NLRB coming to non-union facilities;
  2. Dealing with accommodations under the ADA; and
  3. Protected confidential and proprietary information.  

With many of its recent decisions and actions, the NLRB has made protecting employees’ Section 7 rights, in the union and non-union setting, a primary focus. Suppliers would be wise to pay attention to increased focus on blanket employment policies that may appear to “chill” protected activity.

The ADA and the amendments to same as well as recent guidelines from the EEOC make it likely that suppliers will deal with increased accommodation requests, including pregnancy related requests. Addressing such accommodation requests through the interactive process needs to remain an individualized inquiry that focuses on the essential job functions for the specific employee involved. Suppliers also need to remember that the interactive process is not a one-time only event. As circumstances change, including the essential job functions and/or the employee’s restrictions, suppliers will need to revisit their analysis.

Protecting confidential and proprietary information continues to be a necessary focus for suppliers. Whether it is before, during or after employment; suppliers need to take precautions to ensure that their investments in innovation are not disclosed to a competitor with the click of a computer mouse or walk out the door with a former employee. Implementation and enforcement of policies protecting such information is critical for suppliers.