Labor Relations Update

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D.C. Circuit Court Rules NLRB’s Access to Property Test is Arbitrary

General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, is already on her way to accomplishing one of the objectives she laid out in her recent Advice-Memorandum 21-04 (discussed here earlier on this blog). In the GC’s memo, she identified a number of Board decisions to re-evaluate, including Bexar County Performing Arts Ctr. Found., … Continue Reading

House Committee Attempts to Secure “PRO Act” Changes to Labor Law Through Reconciliation Process of Next Federal Budget

As we have discussed in previous posts (see here and here), the Protect the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”), which would drastically and fundamentally change the nature and scope of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and labor-management relations in the private sector, has languished in the U.S. House of Representatives over the last … Continue Reading

New NLRB General Counsel Signals Greater Utilization of 10(j) Injunctions

The recently-sworn in General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, has had a busy month, setting the stage for a slate of new enforcement initiatives.  First, the GC issued Advice Memorandum 21-04 (discussed here last week), identifying numerous Board decisions that are all but certain to be reassessed once the full complement … Continue Reading

Access Denied: Supreme Court Finds California Regulation Permitting Union Access to Employer Property Constitutes An Unconstitutional Taking

In a 6–3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held on June 23, 2021 that a California regulation granting labor organizers the “right to take access” to agricultural employers’ private property to solicit union support violated the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. See Cedar Point Nursery et al. v. Hassid et al., USSC Case No. … Continue Reading

Hands Off My Ballot: NLRB Finds that Solicitation of Mail-Ballots is Objectionable Conduct That May Warrant Setting Aside an Election

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-ballot elections—rather than manual, in-person elections, have been mandatory for most NLRB representation elections. The NLRB’s recent ruling, on June 9, 2021, in Professional Transportation Inc., 370 NLRB 132 (2021), provided important guidance regarding when solicitation in the context of such elections constitutes objectionable conduct, such that it … Continue Reading

BREAKING: President Biden Nominates Union-Side Attorney Gwynne Wilcox to Fill NLRB Seat

On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, President Biden nominated Gwynne Wilcox to fill the last remaining vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”).  If confirmed by the Senate, Wilcox would be the second Democrat on the Board, joining Board Chair Lauren McFerran (who had been a member of the Board since 2014, and was appointed … Continue Reading

NLRB Majority: Employer May Continue “No Recording” Rule, Even After Unlawfully Applying it to Single Employee

In AT&T Mobility LLC , 370 NLRB No. 121 (2021), the NLRB majority (Members Ring and Emanuel) held that the Employer could lawfully maintain a workplace policy prohibiting its workers from recording conversations with their co-workers, managers or third-parties, even though its application in one particular circumstance was found unlawful.  Notwithstanding the fact that the … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer’s “Hard-Bargaining” Proposals—By Themselves—Did Not Violate Duty to Bargain in Good Faith

In Universal Health Services, Inc., 370 N.L.R.B. No. 118 (April 30, 2021), the Board dismissed a complaint alleging that an employer’s bargaining proposals seeking significant concessions violated the duty to bargain in good faith.  Notably, the Board found that even when faced with extreme proposals, a union must still “test” the employer’s willingness to make … Continue Reading

NLRB Finds Social Media Policies Lawful, Sheds Light on Impact of Boeing

As we have discussed before, several years ago, the Board instituted a significant paradigm shift in analyzing the lawfulness of employers’ handbook policies in relation to employees’ Section 7 rights, when it issued its decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017).  Boeing established a balancing test that takes into account the employer’s … Continue Reading

NLRB Holds that Leaflet Outlining Consequences for Threatening Workers Is Not Unlawful

In adopting the ALJ’s Recommended Order in S&S Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Appalachian Heating, Case No. 09-CA-235304, the NLRB found that a leaflet distributed by the employer during union organizing efforts, which stated that it is against federal law for a labor union to threaten employees, did not violate the NLRA because it did not constitute … Continue Reading

NLRB: An Inference of Union Animus Must Be Grounded in Sufficient Supporting Evidence under Wright Line

When an employee is disciplined and then claims the employer acted on account of union animus in violation of Section 8(a)(3) of the Act, evidence to support such a claim either can be proffered through direct evidence, such as “smoking gun”-type statements made by a supervisor or top-management that the discipline was implemented due to … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer’s Good-Faith Belief in Employee’s Misconduct Insufficient to Justify Terminating Employee Engaged in Protected Activity

As we have often discussed, there is a fine line between protected and unprotected activity.  Profane outbursts, deliberate misconduct, or highly-disruptive strikes may fall outside the protection of the NLRA, subjecting employees to lawful disciplinary action by their employers. On December 7, 2020, the Board reaffirmed its prior decisions holding that an employer’s discharge of … Continue Reading

A Bias against Neutrality Agreements: NLRB Regional Director Issues Complaint against Hotel for Supporting Organizing Union

On November 30, 2020, the NLRB Regional Director issued a Complaint against the Yotel Boston hotel and Unite Here Local 26, alleging the Hotel unlawfully recognized and provided improper assistance to the Union. The Hotel and the Union were parties to a neutrality agreement.  As is common in such agreements, the Hotel agreed to provide … Continue Reading

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 Issues Several Advice Memoranda Providing Guidance on COVID-Related and Other Workplace Issues

On September 15, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “Board”) Division of Advice (“Advice”), published four Advice Memoranda addressing an array of issues ranging from COVID-19-related unilateral actions to non-work political advocacy and the legality of confidentiality provisions in separation agreements.  The Memoranda were drafted by Advice last month, and join the … 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

Overruling District Court, Second Circuit Affirms Individual Employees Are Bound By Arbitration Award Prosecuted By Their Union

On July 29, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the “Second Circuit”) handed down what amounts to a significant win for the collectively-bargained dispute-resolution process set forth in the agreement between ABM Industry Groups, LLC (“ABM”) and its Union, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 30 (“Local 30” or … Continue Reading

Senate Confirms Pair of Appointees to National Labor Relations Board

In a package deal, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointments of two members to the National Labor Relations Board (“Board” or “NLRB”).  Lauren McFerran, who previously served as a member of the NLRB for five years until her term expired on December 16, 2019, will rejoin the current Board as its only Democrat.  Current Republican … 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
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