Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: General Counsel

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NLRB General Counsel Issues Handbook on Handbook Rules

Following up on the NLRB’s decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), on June 6, NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a new Guidance Memorandum (18-04) detailing how NLRB Regional Offices receiving claims of improper employment policies are to interpret employer workplace rules. As we reported this past December (here), … Continue Reading

Thorough Employer Investigation Helps Establish Employer’s “Honest Belief” of Employees’ Picket Line Misconduct

The Board is now operating at a full complement and is issuing decisions on a fairly regular basis.  Nothing earth shattering in terms of law (which is kind of a relief) but there are some interesting issues worth discussing.  A frequent topic of discussion here is the often blurry line between what constitutes “protected” versus … Continue Reading

Unicorn Sighting: NLRB Overturns ALJ Credibility Determination

As we have seen, there are few things that can be counted on in labor relations.   Oftentimes, several experts look at the same problem and come to vastly different conclusions (here, here and here are some examples).  What is (almost) guaranteed, however, is that the NLRB rarely disturbs the determinations made by an Administrative … Continue Reading

Impulse Control? NLRB Finds Employee’s Misconduct To Be Deliberate and “Predetermined” and Not Protected

The past few weeks on the Labor Board front have been fairly routine, save for, of course, the high drama associated with the NLRB reversing its own decision (lest anyone think this is a super significant development, remember that this agency had scores of decisions overturned for lacking a proper quorum only to wait, quietly, and … Continue Reading

Turns Out Attempting To Insert New Term Into Collective Bargaining Agreement Not Agreed To In Negotiations Violates The Law…Who Knew?

As we have noted previously, the make-up of the Board currently stands at four out of five total members, divided evenly between two warring factions making it pretty much impossible to change the law which requires a majority.  It also means the precedent the new General Counsel has highlighted will not be reviewed until a … Continue Reading

NLRB Restores Ability Of ALJs To Accept Settlement Offers Over Objection of Charging Party and General Counsel- Overrules One Year Old Precedent

In the last few years, December has been a time of change at the NLRB.  The last few Decembers have seen precedent overturned and other sweeping decisions issue from the Board. This December is no different.  With Chairman Miscimarra’s term ending on December 16, a flurry of decisions issued.  We saw the micro-unit, joint employer … Continue Reading

NLRB GC Boldly Defines Direction of Board Prosecution in New GC Memo

The new NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has been fast at work.  A short two weeks after being sworn in on November 17, 2017, the new General Counsel issued a memorandum making clear his intention to re-examine much of the legal precedent that was changed during the last 8 years,–and to undo many other initiatives … Continue Reading

NLRB Gains a New General Counsel With Senate Confirmation of Peter B. Robb

By a vote of 49 to 46, the U.S. Senate confirmed Peter B. Robb as the General Counsel of the NLRB.  Mr. Robb, who replaces former General Counsel Richard Griffin, is the 33rd person to hold the position since the NLRA was passed in 1935.  We have previously discussed how the newly constituted Board is likely to change … Continue Reading

The Devil Is In the Details: New Board Members Likely To Change Law In Nuanced Ways

The end of September in most years sees a spate of new NLRB decisions, sometimes dozens, issued on or about September 30, to coincide with the end of the agency’s fiscal year.  Not so this past September 30 because of the recent changeover from a majority of Democrat Board Members to a majority of Republican … Continue Reading

Senate Confirms Appointment of William J. Emanuel to NLRB; Board Has Full Complement,- For Now

In a 49-47 vote today, the Senate confirmed William J. Emanuel’s appointment to the NLRB.  Once Mr. Emanuel is sworn in, it will be first time since 2015 that the NLRB has had a full five members.  Before 2015, years of gridlock often saw the Board at less than full strength, which resulted in all sorts of mayhem, … Continue Reading

NLRB Ditches Effort To Expand Weingarten Rights to Non-Union Workplaces

Since the change in Presidential administrations, the main topic has turned to what rules will a newly constituted NLRB change?  With the addition of Marvin E. Kaplan the Board now has four members, which makes undoing some of the past few years a difficult task.  But a four member Board also means there likely will be … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer’s Side Letter Explaining NLRB Notice Breached Settlement Agreement and Warranted Default Judgment

One of the fundamental pillars of any remedy doled out by the NLRB is the agency’s  requirement that the employer (or union) post a “Notice to Employees,” a bright blue poster detailing the misdeeds of the charged party.  Such a Notice is required to be posted as a result of a finding of an unfair … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Enforcement of Secondary Boycott Restrictions Does Not Place Union Agent in Involuntary Servitude Nor Does It Encroach on Union’s Religious Freedom

Labor Day is upon us.  It is fitting, therefore, to enter the weekend with another case that exemplifies the bizarre world of labor relations.  Like the case of the human resource manager who turned on his employer, or the nurse who felt her union activity protected her in screaming confrontations, we continue to see new … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Attempt To Incrementally Expand Weingarten Rights Rebuffed By Federal Appeals Court

The NLRB suffered a setback this week when its interpretation of Weingarten rights was rebuffed by the D.C. Court of Appeals.  This is the same court that recently declared the agency was acting more as an “advocate than adjudicator” in a case involving access to an employer’s premises. Weingarten, which derives its name from the United … Continue Reading

Divided NLRB Rules Employer Policy Protecting Customer Information Is Lawful

Employers can prohibit the use by employees of the names, social security numbers and credit card numbers of customers in furtherance of organizational activities.  If this seems like it should have been a foregone conclusion, a recent case from the NLRB shows how the agency’s continued parsing of employer policies could easily have turned this notion on its … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Acted More Like “Advocate Than Adjudicator” In Issuing Decision, DC Court of Appeals Concludes

When bargaining over an agreement, it is common to hear union representatives ask “why do we need such elaborate language in an agreement?  We are always reasonable.”  To which, the company usually responds, “We think you’re nifty but the next person holding your job may not be as reasonable; better to have it in writing … Continue Reading

Two Employees, Social Media, An Unlawful Policy. . .What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The advent of social media resulted in a feverish effort by the NLRB to keep up with new technology.  In reality, the legal standard for evaluating whether conduct is protected concerted activity did not change.  Rather, all the excitement was over the fact employees were being punished for things they said on social media, which was … Continue Reading

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
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