Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: General Counsel

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Attack Falsely Alleging Sandwich Maker Engaged In Unhealthy Practices Not Protected Activity Concludes Appeals Court, Overruling NLRB

Labor disputes are passionate affairs.  Workplace grievances elicit all sorts of strident behavior. When the dispute involves a group of employees, the effect can become magnified.  The exact point at which the stridency of an employee’s behavior becomes unprotected is not always apparent, and like so much else in labor relations, the line changes with the Board’s … Continue Reading

Novel Theory Related To Violation Of Bargaining “Ground Rules” Fails (Fortunately)

When an employer and a union sit down to bargain they often agree to ground rules for how negotiations are to be conducted.  A common ground rule, for example, is for the parties to agree to address “non-economic” items before addressing economic proposals.  Other ground rules include things like confidentiality of negotiations (becoming increasingly rare as unions want to take their … Continue Reading

Circuit Court Rejects Attack On NLRB’s New Witness Rule

During the last several years, the NLRB has overturned a great deal of existing precedent.  Among other changes, the Board has required bargaining over discipline in newly organized units, found graduate students to be employees entitled to organize, and found that two employers may have to bargain together.  The Board also changed the longstanding rule … Continue Reading

NLRB Settlements Can Be Tricky, Especially If You Don’t Inform The Agency

The last few decisions issued by the NLRB have addressed a wide spectrum of rather unique situations.  Just in the last several days we saw decisions involving a combative registered nurse and a human resources representative threatening unionization.  So, perhaps, one of the Board’s most recent decisions is not all that unusual….it simply involves a case … Continue Reading

HR Generalist’s Threat To Bring In Union Not Protected, NLRB Rules

One of the most interesting things about labor relations is the unusual situations human resources professionals have to deal with on a day to day basis.  If you are at a cocktail party with a human resources professional, ask them what the most unusual thing they’ve ever encountered on the job and chances are you’ll … Continue Reading

Union Adherent’s Antics Not Protected By Act, NLRB Rules

The NLRB recently issued a rare decision completely dismissing all allegations against an employer; rarer still because it was unanimous.  In Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, 365 NLRB No. 79 (May 15, 2017) the NLRB was confronted with a situation where an employee-union adherent engaged in behavior ultimately found to be inappropriate and unprotected. The employer, a … Continue Reading

NLRB GC’s Attempt At Summary Judgment In Handbook Case Rejected By NLRB Majority

The change in a presidential administration always brings changes to government agencies, including the NLRB, as new appointments are made reflecting the policy preferences of the administration.  The NLRB is not immune to this change and it has been historical practice for the president to appoint three members from the party of the administration and … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds that Lafe Solomon Improperly Served as NLRB General Counsel

The Supreme Court has dealt another blow to the stability of the National Labor Relations Board. In a 6-2 decision, in, National Labor Relations Board v. SW General, Inc. DBA Southwest Ambulance, USSC Case No. 15-1251 (March 21, 2017),  the  Court held that the NLRB’s prior Acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon, who served as acting GC while awaiting … Continue Reading

Employer’s Interview Of Employees During Defense Of Unfair Labor Practice Violates Act, NLRB Rules

We already know that when it comes to the NLRB there already are several actions an employer can take that violate the NLRA, even though such actions would be perfectly acceptable under any other employment law.  And sometimes the actions are deemed unlawful even when they are not directly related to the NLRA.  Thus, we’ve … Continue Reading

Employer Did Not Violate Duty To Bargain Over Change To Christmas Gift Policy, NLRB Rules

What would the holiday season be without a Christmas gift case?  A perennial problem for labor relations personnel is whether the yearly Christmas turkey given to employees is something that an employer must bargain over before (bah humbug) discontinuing. See, e.g., Q-1 Motor Express, Inc., 323 NLRB 767, 775 (1997). In a decision issued shortly … Continue Reading

NLRB Majority Stuns Nation By Ruling Employer Has Management Right, Chairman Dissents

In another example of the inconsistency of the current state of Board law, a 2-1 majority of the NLRB ruled that an employer not only had a management right but it wasn’t necessary that this right be expressly set forth in the parties’ contract.  This is certainly odd because the NLRB went out of its … Continue Reading

Employer Claims Of Unprofitability And Competitive Disadvantage Enough To Trigger Audit Of Financials By Union, NLRB Majority Concludes

The end of another NLRB fiscal year is upon us.  Today, September 30, marks the last date of the fiscal year.  We can expect to see a number of decisions issue from the Board, and many determinations made at the regional level, as the agency attempts to pump up its case processing statistics.  We will … Continue Reading

Union Represented Employee Not Entitled To Co-Worker Witness During Investigatory Interview, NLRB Rules

The last few months at the NLRB have been relatively quiet, save of course for the ambush election rules which went into effect on April 15; the true impact of these rules has yet to be revealed.  Many of the recent Board cases involve correcting decisions that were  invalidated by the Supreme Court in its Noel Canning recess appointment decision. … Continue Reading

No Duty To Bargain Over Discipline During Contract Hiatus, NLRB Division of Advice

The NLRB has been active but quiet during the last few months as the agency quietly reaffirms decisions nullified by the Supreme Court.  By all accounts, however, and as history has proved, the NLRB is getting ready to issue an onslaught of law-changing decisions as we head into the holiday season.  This onslaught of change … Continue Reading

General Counsel Office Advocates Dramatic Change to Joint Employer Standard

Earlier this year, in the case of Browning –Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 32-RC-109684, the NLRB invited parties to submit briefs on whether the Board should change its long-held standards for assessing when two separate entities should be treated as “joint employers”.   Late last week, the Board’s General Counsel submitted a brief advocating for a … Continue Reading

NLRB Gets #SocialMedia: Board and ALJ Rulings Recap

‘April rulings bring May muddling’ might be a better way to tweet recent social media decisions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) given the Board’s ruling in Durham School Services (April 25, 2014) and an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) opinion in Kroger Co. of Michigan (April 21, 2014).  Together, these two decisions show that the … Continue Reading

Furloughed NLRB Employees Return to Work — Will GC Nominee Griffin be Next?

On the same day that furloughed federal government employees are returning to work, it is being reported that a roll call vote will be scheduled in the Senate to invoke cloture (i.e., end debate) on the nomination of Richard Griffin to be General Counsel of the NLRB.  The vote is reportedly scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013.  We assume that cloture … Continue Reading

I Just Want to Testify

I had the opportunity last week to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcomittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  The subject of my testimony was “What to Look for from the New NLRB.”  A copy of my written testimony is here, and I trust readers will find it of interest. With … Continue Reading

Employer Merely Granted Employee’s Wish To Be Terminated, NLRB Div. Of Advice Rules

Social media permeates society.  It was inevitable that the increased use of smart phones and various communications platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would clash with the workplace.  We have noted several instances where the NLRB has alleged that employer action in response to social media posts is unlawful, as well as its seemingly endless review … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer Responsible For Backpay Of Union Representative Allegedly Injured During Workplace Assault

The NLRB has ruled that an employer is liable to lost wages for a union representative who allegedly suffered injuries after being pushed down a flight of stairs at a work site.  The case is Norquay Construction, Inc., 359 NLRB No. 93 (April 16, 2013).  The facts involved a construction project.  The general contractor was non-union but … Continue Reading

NLRB Pulls Back A Little More On Policy Frenzy, Finds Code Of Conduct Does Not Violate The Act

As we have seen repeatedly in the last year, the NLRB has taken it upon itself to police employer policies often finding a phrase or two to be a violation of the Act.  In recent months we have seen the NLRB seemingly pullback on this trend, taking a much closer look at the context of … Continue Reading
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