Labor Relations Update
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Mark Theodore

Partner

Mark Theodore is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department. He has devoted his practice almost exclusively to representing management in all aspects of traditional labor law matters throughout the U.S.

Mark has extensive experience representing employers in all matters before the NLRB, including representation petitions, jurisdictional disputes and the handling of unfair labor practice charges from the date they are filed through trial and appeal. Mark has acted as lead negotiator for dozens of major companies in nearly all industries, including multi-unit, multi-location, multi-employer and multi-union bargaining.

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D.C. Circuit Remands Hotel Certification Decision and Reminds Board to Explain Its Reasoning

On October 23, 2020, the D.C. Circuit granted Davidson Hotel Company’s petition for review of unfair labor practices resulting from its refusal to bargain with two newly-certified bargaining units, and denied the NLRB’s cross-petition for enforcement of an order to engage in collective bargaining with those units. The Circuit also remanded the underlying unit certification … Continue Reading

Handbook Civility Rules Aimed at Preventing Toxic Work Environments Found Lawful by NLRB’s Division of Advice

The NLRB’s Division of Advice recently released a long-awaited Advice Memorandum (originally issued in February 2019, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Case 28-CA-229134 (Feb. 22, 2019)) concerning the validity of two workplace rules under the Boeing standard: (1) a rule encouraging employees to “[b]e…objective” in their communications; and (2) a rule requiring employees to notify the employer … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer Tweet Unlawfully Restrained Protected Activity

On November 24, 2020, the Board held that a high-level executive’s tweet violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by interfering with or restraining employees’ protected, concerted activity. In FDRLST Media, LLC, 370 NLRB No. 49 (2020), the Board reaffirmed its longstanding principle that a violation of Section 8(a)(1) does not depend on the employer’s motive … Continue Reading

NLRB Establishes Pathway to Holding More In-Person Manual-Ballot Elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As employers faced with a representation petition filed during the COVID-19 pandemic can attest, Regional Directors of the National Labor Relations Board have been incredibly reticent to hold in-person elections.  Indeed, since April 1st, when the Board resumed processing representation petitions, approximately ninety percent (90%) of elections have been held by mail rather than in-person.  … Continue Reading

NLRB Seeks Comment: Rats, Banners and Neutrals, Oh My!

An age old question under the National Labor Relations Act is what constitutes “picketing”?  By the Supreme Court’s definition, picketing is inherently coercive and may not be directed against a neutral employer.  An issue that has vexed employers for the last several years has been the use of stationary protests, such as inflatable rats and … Continue Reading

NLRB Advice Memorandum: Firing Employees Because of Discussions Related to Tip-Pooling Violates Section 8(a)(1)

In an Advice Memorandum released Thursday, the NLRB’s Division of Advice concluded that employees who discussed an employer’s tip-pooling practices engaged in protected concerted activity, such that discharging the employees for this activity violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. Employees working at a steakhouse in New York City often complained about the restaurant’s tip-pooling system. … Continue Reading

NLRB: Members Of Trade Group Are Not “Employees” Covered By The NLRA

On September 11, 2020, a three-member National Labor Relations Board panel unanimously ruled that a trade group representing sign language interpreters did not violate Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by removing its members’ posts on its closed Facebook page.  The posts, made by individual members of the trade group, discussed the interpreters’ work conditions and … Continue Reading

No Reasonable Expectation of Recall? No Election: Board Cancels Union Election at Casino Closed During COVID-19

The National Labor Relations Board recently cancelled a union election at a Las Vegas casino that suspended its operations and laid off employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In NP Texas LLC d/b/a Texas Station Gambling Hall and Hotel and Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas, 370 NLRB No. 11 (2020), the Board found that … Continue Reading

NLRB Division of Advice Dishes Some Guidance With Respect to COVID-Related ULP Charges

The pandemic has thrown a number of obstacles at employers and employees as everyone attempts to navigate a novel situation.  On August 13, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) Division of Advice (“Advice”), the agency’s internal think-tank, published five Advice Memoranda dismissing unfair labor practice charges against employers in connection with issues concerning the … Continue Reading

NLRB Upends Context-Specific Tests for Profane Conduct, Folding Such Discipline Into Traditional Motivation Tests For Evaluating Lawfulness

In another long-anticipated decision, on July 21, 2020, in General Motors LLC, 369 NLRB No. 127 (2020), the Board replaced three context-specific rules for determining whether certain abusive conduct committed by employees is protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”) with the Wright Line standard that is traditionally used to … Continue Reading

NLRB Division of Advice Releases Deluge of Advice Memoranda Discussing COVID-Related ULP Charges, Confidentiality Rules, Information Requests, and Other Topics

On July 15, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) Division of Advice published 16 Advice Memoranda addressing myriad questions posed by various Regional Offices. While a majority of the Memoranda were drafted within the past month, a few were originally issued months or years ago. Advice is the agency’s internal think tank and the … Continue Reading

NLRB General Counsel Announces “Suggested” Protocols for Conducting Manual, In-Person Elections Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

After a brief delay where the NLRB suspended all representation elections from March 19 through April 6, 2020 (see here and here), NLRB Regional Directors have since largely required elections to be held via mail ballot to curb the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the Office of the General Counsel of the NLRB published … Continue Reading

Update: Federal Judge Amends Prior Order Concerning 2019 Election Rules, Affording Deference to the NLRB, but Appeal to D.C. Circuit Remains

In late May, on the eve of the effective date of the NLRB’s sweeping changes to the election process, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that certain of the new rules were substantive—not procedural—in nature, and were improperly implemented without affording the public an opportunity to … Continue Reading

NLRB Gives Green Light to Confidentiality Provisions in Individual Arbitration Agreements

In many private arbitration agreements entered into in the non-union context, employers and employees agree that the proceedings shall remain confidential. On June 19, 2020, the Board addressed whether a confidentiality provision that arguably restricted an employee participating in the arbitration process from disclosing terms and conditions of employment violates the NLRA. The Board held, … Continue Reading

NLRB Establishes Bright-Line Test Denying Jurisdiction over Religious Educational Institutions

We have seen this movie before.  NLRB precedent established by the Board under the prior Administration conflicted sharply with decisions by the D.C. Circuit reviewing the Board.  Then the current iteration of the Board reverses its own precedent and sides with the D.C. Circuit.  This situation occurred recently with regard to whether the “clear and … Continue Reading

Union’s Efforts to Scare Employees From Participating in Employer Investigations Rebuked by the Board

On June 5, 2020, the NLRB held, in Teamsters Local Union No. 735-S (Bemis Co., Inc.), 369 NLRB No. 97, that union officials’ retaliatory actions against members who participated in an investigation resulting in the discharge of the union president violated the NLRA’s prohibitions against union restraint or coercion (Section 8(b)(1)(A)) and causing employer discrimination … Continue Reading

NLRB Redefines “Solicitation,” Broadening Conduct that may be Considered Unprotected

On May 29, 2020, the NLRB issued an important opinion overruling two decisions in order to define the term “solicitation” in a manner consistent with prior Board decisions and the dictionary definition of the term. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 369 NLRB No. 91 (2020). In defining “solicitation,” the Board held that “where an employee makes … Continue Reading

NLRB: Policy Prohibiting Personal Cell Phones in Work Areas Due to Safety Concerns May Be Lawful under Boeing

As we previously suggested, the NLRB’s adoption of the Boeing standard for determining the lawfulness of employer’s workplace rules, policies and handbook provisions has provided significant fodder for interesting cases. The Board has struggled for years with the concept that certain commonsense employer business policies can be unlawful. It is difficult to draw bright-line rules … Continue Reading

“Hard” Bargaining Proposals Placed Into Final Offer Evidence Bad Faith Bargaining, NLRB Concludes

On May 21, 2020, the NLRB issued a decision in Altura Communication Solutions, LLC. The case asked the Board to consider whether a series of broad proposals made by the employer during collective bargaining amounted to bad faith bargaining and 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(5) violations. The Board noted that while it is not its role to … Continue Reading

NLRB Regions Hold Information Sessions to Discuss Representation Case Changes

In December 2019, the NLRB announced its Final Rule governing representation case procedures. The Final Rule applies to petitions filed on or after May 31, 2020. With the effective date fast approaching, NLRB Regions nationwide are holding public information sessions to explain these changes. Recently, on May 21, 2020, Region 25 in Indianapolis hosted its … Continue Reading

BREAKING: NLRB to Resume Unfair Labor Practice Trials June 1, 2020

As many states throughout the country have begun implementing phased reopening plans, so too has the NLRB begun to return to a semblance of normality. Representation elections resumed in early April, and the NLRB recently provided clarification as to how representation hearings should be conducted. In the last few weeks the agency has counted ballots … Continue Reading

NLRB Establishes Bright-Line Rule Voiding Election Ballots with Dual or Additional Markings

One area of controversy over the years is the NLRB’s attempt to interpret markings on representation ballots that are not clearly “yes” or “no.”  This has given rise to a number of tests for divining voter intent.  Overruling decades of conflicting precedent involving the interpretation of a voter’s intent, the NLRB issued a key decision … Continue Reading

NLRB: Hearings in Representation Cases with Witnesses Must Be Conducted By Videoconference during COVID-19 Pandemic

As most of the country’s workforce continues to adjust to the new realities of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and limited travel, the practice of law and the forums for adjudicating disputes have shifted to video and telephonic hearings to ensure that the wheels of justice continue to turn notwithstanding COVID-19.  The NLRB has been no … Continue Reading

NLRB Suspends Remedial Notice-Posting Requirements for Facilities Shutdown During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Board continues to issue decisions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, while acknowledging that business operations around the country are far from “business as usual.” The agency is up and running.  Representation elections vote counts are being conducted via video conference as are hearings.  The remedy stage of unfair labor practice proceedings also has caught up … Continue Reading
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