Anne-Marie Mizel
Anne-Marie Mizel
Senior Counsel, Pittsburgh
Formerly: Ice cream shop attendant as a teenager
  • B.A., Government, Cornell University;
  • J.D., The Law School at the University of Chicago.

I have always loved the intellectual and rhetorical challenge involved in persuasion. Even as a child, I was quick to look for loopholes in parental rules; as a teenager, I may have taken the tendency a little too far and developed a reputation for being argumentative. Since then, I’ve turned what was a natural tendency toward disputation into a career—researching the most groundbreaking legal precedents, marshaling even the most obscure resources available, and persuading judges, juries, and administrative agencies to look favorably on my clients’ positions. Thanks to the tutelage of Arch Stokes and others in our firm, I have also learned to think outside the box and make arguments that other attorneys might not consider, which has led to some creative and unexpected victories. All of this has added up to a career with many highlights in the form of successes in jury trials, in arbitrations, at the negotiating table, and at the administrative level in both the United States and state bureaucracies.

Though I’ve never worked in the hospitality industry, I have enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the businesses of operating hotels and restaurants, and developed an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into both the management and the work of hospitality. I know that dealing with litigation is everyone’s least favorite part of their job, so I make every effort to handle as much of a case as possible with only the minimal necessary imposition on the client’s valuable work time. When we do have to interact, I make a point always to express appreciation of the client’s assistance.

I am a huge fan of the sport of ice hockey; I play badly myself and religiously watch the excellent play of my favorite professional players – especially, of course, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. I also play tennis (less badly) and follow the sport all year long. I have always been an amateur and sometime semi-professional musician, and I continue to sing and play drums and keyboards in the musical project One Hand Clapping, which I enjoy with my husband Ed and a childhood friend here in Pittsburgh. Arch can tell the story of the time he and I and a client crashed a piano lounge populated almost entirely by the friends of an important union official in Washington, D.C. That night I sang some blues with the official’s wife, a talented piano player and singer, and the next day we reached agreement with the union on a long-disputed issue in contract negotiations! “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.”

I am enthusiastic about the burgeoning hospitality industry in Pittsburgh, with exciting new restaurants and hotels opening seemingly every week, and I look forward to the opportunity to put my experience and creativity to work for many of them.

On August 9, the National Labor Relations Board released three proposed new rules designed to ease employees’ ability to avoid unionization or decertify unions.

The first amendment modifies the Board’s current policy regarding so-called “blocking charges,” unfair labor practice charges filed by a union to avoid a decertification election. Currently, these elections are delayed until the charges have been resolved. The proposed rule establishes a “vote and impound” procedure in which the election would take place as scheduled, but the votes would not be counted until the blocking charges are resolved.

The second proposed amendment re-establishes the requirement of a notice and a 45-day period during which an employee can file an election petition following an employer’s voluntary recognition of a union. Since 2011, the Board had been following the rule that a union enjoyed a presumption of majority support for six months to a year following such voluntary recognition. The new proposed rule would return to the standard announced in Dana Corporation, 351 NLRB No. 28 (2007).

The third amendment, applicable only to the construction industry, requires extrinsic evidence in addition to contract language to establish a majority of employee support for a union.

The Board’s stated purpose is to restore the ability of employees to “exercise their fundamental statutory right to the timely resolution of questions concerning representation through the preferred means of a Board-conducted secret ballot election.” The current rules make it easier for unions to obtain and hold onto their status as employee representatives without a formal Board election procedure.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

On June 6, 2018, the NLRB’s new General Counsel, Peter B. Robb, issued guidance regarding the Board’s current policies on Employee Handbooks, expanding on the Board’s recent decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), and taking a more employer-friendly approach.

The Board has specified three categories of rules:

Category 1: Rules that are Generally Lawful to Maintain. These rules include rules against rudeness, photography, recording of conversations, insubordination, roughhousing, nepotism, and defamation of individual colleagues, as well as rules protecting confidential information and the use of company logos. These rules could be interpreted as outlawing certain protected conduct; however, the Board found that employees are unlikely to be chilled by these rules, so the rules are generally lawful as written.

Category 2: Rules Warranting Individual Scrutiny. These rules include broad conflict-of-interest and confidentiality rules, rules prohibiting disparagement of the or the making of false or inaccurate statements, rules banning off-duty conduct that might harm the employer, and rules regulating speaking to the media or using the employer’s name. Case-by-case evaluations determine whether Category 2 rules transgress an employee’s rights under the NLRA. If so, further evaluation is required to determine whether the transgression outweighs the justification for such rules.

Category 3: Rules that are Unlawful to Maintain. These rules enforce confidentiality with respect to employee wages and working conditions and “ban[sic]{:target=”blank”} membership in an outside organization that might interfere with work” (potentially applying to unions). Barring a special circumstance, these employee policies are unlawful.

What Does This Mean For You?

When creating employee policies and reviewing employee handbooks, employers should consider whether the policies fall into one of the above three categories. In dealing with employee concerns and defending employee lawsuits, employers must consider what actions are necessary based on the category of the rule in question.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here - and be sure to check out more updates in our Stokes Wagner Quarterly Legal Update!

Recent amendments to Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance make it even more comprehensive and inclusive. The law provides employees of eligible employers with paid sick time as well as “safe” time to deal with situations such as domestic abuse or sexual assault, or closure of work or school for any health-related reason.

Eligibility: Work-study employees are now eligible.


  • Waiting Period: Employees may now use PSST after 90 days of employment (previously 180 days of employment).
  • “Family Members” now includes children of any age, siblings, and grandparents.
  • Increment Use: PSST may be measured in the smallest increments in which compensation is tracked, rather than limiting it to 15-minute or hourly increments.

No More CBA Waivers: Starting January 1, 2019, employees may not waive PSST with collective bargaining waivers.

Caps: Employers may no longer cap an employee’s PSST, but caps for carryover of unused PSST remain in place.

Employer Verification: Seattle employers may still seek verification of the need for PSST for more than three consecutive days, but the ordinance adds a caveat prohibiting unreasonable burden or expense on the employee, or any intrusion on privacy requirements.

Record-keeping: Employer Record-keeping requirements have expanded to include accrued but unused PSST, and reductions donated or not carried over, in addition to each employee’s used PSST.

Rate of Pay: While the previous ordinance excluded tips and commissions from the hourly amount that must be paid for PSST, the current ordinance now simply requires payment of the “normal hourly rate”, removing any language that specifically excludes excluding tips and commissions.

Food-and-drink establishments also may no longer substitute shift changes for use of PSST or require an employee to find a replacement during PSST.

Posting requirements have expanded to include employees’ rights to PSST and to be free of retaliation for its use.

Employers should review their Paid Sick and Safe Time policies to ensure compliance with the new ordinance. Please contact Stokes Wagner with any questions or concerns on how to enact these policies.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here - and be sure to check out more updates in our Stokes Wagner Quarterly Legal Update!

In July 2016, Santa Monica enacted two minimum wage ordinances, one specific to hotel workers (the “Hotel Workers Living Wage Ordinance”), and the other to any employees of an employer in Santa Monica (“Minimum Wage Ordinance”). The hotel worker minimum wage is currently $15.66 per hour; the minimum wage for employees covered by the other ordinance is currently $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. Both are scheduled to rise in July 2018 (for hotel workers indexed to inflation, for other employees to $13.25 and $12.00, respectively).

Late last year, the City of Santa Monica announced its first conviction for a violation of the minimum wage ordinances, a hotel-based retail that entered “no contest” pleas to three misdemeanor counts of failing to pay the required minimum wage and one count of unlawful retaliation. The plea agreement calls for 36 months of probation, the payment of $11,000 in back wages plus $3,000 to compensate the City for its investigation costs, and 150 hours of community service.

What does this mean for you? It is imperative that all employers, especially those in the hospitality industry, stay up to date with ever-changing local minimum wage requirements.

For more legal news, check out our quarterly newsletter for April 2018!

On January 18, 2018, California’s Department of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, approved a proposed regulation requiring hotel employers to maintain “an effective, written, musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping.” The regulation requires the employer to assess the risks, implement a program to address them in cooperation with any housekeepers’ union representative (the regulation was based in large part on a proposal set forth by UNITE HERE Local 11), train the housekeepers with respect to the MIPP, and ensure the housekeepers’ implementation of the MIPP. Employers are also required to keep records of the evaluation giving rise to the employer’s program, and the steps taken to implement it.

The approved standard has been filed with California’s Office of Administrative Law to ensure compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act. The standard goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

What does this mean for you? Stokes Wagner recently prepared a memorandum outlining the approved requirements. Please contact us with any further questions.

For more legal news, check out our quarterly newsletter for April 2018!

Starting January 1, 2018, San Francisco requires employers to ensure that any space offered for lactation also includes a place to sit, a surface on which to place a breast pump and/or other personal items, access to electricity, and a nearby refrigerator in which the employee can store expressed milk. An employee’s lactation break time may be unpaid if it is not taken within or during an already-specified paid break. The Ordinance strictly prohibits retaliation against anyone who requests lactation accommodation or files a complaint with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”).

The Ordinance sets forth building permit guidelines for the construction or renovation of lactation spaces. The private space may be used for other purposes – even among multiple employers – as long as there is room for all who need it, lactation is given priority over other uses, and other employees are aware of the room’s purpose.

What does this mean for you? Employers within San Francisco city limits must develop a lactation accommodation policy that (1) explains how an employee may request lactation accommodations, (2) requires the employer to respond within five (5) business days, and (3) allows for any necessary interactive process between employee and employer. Employers must also maintain written records of these interactions for three (3) years. Please click here for more details on such guidelines.

In 2018, the OLSE will first issue warnings and notices to employers who violate this Ordinance. Thereafter, the OLSE may impose a $500 administrative penalty, and a $50 penalty for each day the violation continues.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!