As we previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) has been undergoing a seismic change of direction. With two memoranda published September 8th and September 15th, NLRB General Counsel (“GC”) Jennifer Abruzzo looks to take further progress toward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to be the “strongest labor President you have ever had.” Following NLRB Chairman McFerran expressly stating her willingness to explore new remedies for unfair labor practice violations, GC Abruzzo has instructed the regional offices to seek expanded remedies in Unfair Labor Practice (“ULP”) litigation and settlement negotiations.

Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Issues Memos Calling for New Harsher Penalties for Unfair Labor Practice Violations

As we have previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) was likely to undergo substantial policy changes under President Biden. This process began when President Biden took the unprecedented step of firing former General Counsel Robb before his four-year term had expired and continued as Peter Sung Ohr, the Acting General Counsel who was appointed to replace Robb, rescinded many of the more notable guidance memoranda Robb issued during his term.

Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Sets an Agenda to Reverse Trump-Era Board Policy

On July 21, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued a 3-1 decision affirming its precedent that displaying banners and a large inflatable rat (“Scabby the Rat”) near neutral employers does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”).  This decision may come as a disappointment to many employers as the NLRB under the Trump administration had been making efforts to end what many felt was unlawful secondary picketing under the Act.

Continue Reading Scabby Survives Another Trip to the NLRB: Board Reaffirms Rat-and-Banner Displays Targeting Neutral Businesses Are Permissible

Substantial changes are afoot at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Most notably, these include the firing of the NLRB’s General Counsel Peter Robb and the rescission of ten of Robb’s General Counsel Memoranda. The New Acting General Counsel further ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against UNITE HERE challenging a pre-recognition neutrality agreement. This latter decision is at odds with guidance provided by the NLRB over the last several months and is certainly indicative of a transformation taking place at the agency under the Biden administration. These changes are discussed in detail below.
Continue Reading New Administration, New Direction as Acting NLRB General Counsel Rescinds 10 General Counsel Memos and Reverses Course on Neutrality Pacts With Unions

Unions have long sought to avoid the NLRB’s election process, relying instead upon so-called “neutrality” agreements to obtain initial recognition by employers and legally enforceable rights to represent and bargain on behalf of previously unrepresented employees.  Although truly neutral pre-recognition “neutrality agreements,” i.e. those calling for an employer to be neutral on the subject of unionization and little more, are lawful, many such agreements go beyond mere neutrality and venture into actual employer support of organizing.  This may render such agreements unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) because they interfere with employees’ rights under the Act.  Indeed, Section 8(a)(2) of the Act declares it impermissible for an employer to support a union’s organizing efforts.  Likewise, Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the Act makes it unlawful for a union to receive such support.
Continue Reading Neutrality and Labor Peace Agreements – When Its Unlawful for an Employer to Be “Too Neutral” as to Union Organizing Under the NLRA

Did an NLRB’s Regional Director abuse her discretion when she directed a mail ballot election instead of an in-person (manual) ballot election during the COVID-19 pandemic?  Though not getting the attention it deserves, this is an extremely important issue going to the very integrity of the Board’s representation process.  Manual balloting has long been the Board’s preferred manner of conducting an election because mail balloting is held under less controlled conditions and, thus, more prone to irregularities.  Moreover, mail ballot elections may result in lower employee election participation.  Most importantly to employers, mail ballot elections also generally favor unions.
Continue Reading The Board Weighs In on the COVID Mail Ballot Controversy

The National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB” or Board”) Division of Advice[1] recently released five memos dealing with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic—concluding in all five that dismissal of the pending unfair labor practice charge (“ULP” or “charge”) against the employer was warranted.  These advice memos come on the heels of a series of advice memos issued by the Division of Advice in July, which also recommended the dismissal of COVID-19-related charges filed against employers.  Although these advice memoranda do not carry the same weight as a Board decision, they shed light on how the regional offices may view these matters going forward and can be used as a roadmap for employers who are undoubtedly navigating similar issues in their businesses during the pandemic.
Continue Reading NLRB Releases More Employer-Friendly COVID Advice

On June 10, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) issued Bethany College, 369 NLRB No. 98, in which it held that it does not have jurisdiction over matters concerning teachers or faculty at bona fide religious educational institutions.  Bona fide religious educational institutions are those who (1) hold themselves out to students, faculty and the community as providing a religious educational environment; (2) are nonprofit organizations; and (3) are affiliated with, or owned, operated or controlled by a recognized religious organization or with an entity, membership of which is determined, at least in part, with reference to religion.  In Bethany College, the Board also overruled its decision in Pacific Lutheran University, 361 NLRB 1404 (2014), where the Board had concluded it could assert jurisdiction over a religious school and its teachers if the teachers were not held out as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the school’s religious educational environment.  In overruling Pacific Lutheran on constitutional grounds, the Bethany College Board found that its Pacific Lutheran decision could not be squared with the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent.
Continue Reading The NLRB Rethinks Its Position on When It May Assert Jurisdiction Over Religious Schools in Labor Matters Involving Faculty Members

This article originally appeared on Law360 on January 27, 2020.

The current National Labor Relations Board was extremely kind to employers during 2019, issuing a multitude of precedent-setting decisions and new rules that reversed many of the excesses of the Obama board and returned the National Labor Relations Act to its more neutral legislative intent.

The board’s current composition will change this coming August when member Marvin Kaplan’s term expires. But with the Republicans in control of both the White House and the Senate, at least, through the end of the year, 2020 is shaping up to be another year of decisions and rules that give employers further hope that additional business-friendly decisions are on the way.

These anticipated cases and rule changes include but certainly are not limited to the following.
Continue Reading Expect More Pro-Business Rulings From NLRB This Year

The Trump National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to reshape the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) with new decisions that reverse precedents and undo legal restrictions placed on employers during the Obama administration. Over the past week alone and coming on the heels of the current Board’s issuance of new more employer friendly election regulations, the Board issued three important cases that warrant management’s attention. What follows is a brief summary of these new cases and an explanation of how they are likely to effect the workplace.
Continue Reading Employers May Now Forbid Employees Using Co. Email for Protected Concerted Activities, Forbid Employees from Discussing On-Going Workplace Investigations, and Cease Checking Off Union Dues

On the eve of the holidays, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) delivered an early Christmas present to employers with its issuance of new regulations governing the NLRB election process.  While not scraping the Obama Board’s controversial 2014 election regulations wholesale, the current Board’s new rules moderate the election processing time frames considerably, allow employers to raise issues of supervisory status before an election is held and give employers a greater opportunity to campaign amongst employee voters in an effort to maintain their union free status.  These procedural changes which will become effective in early April 2020 are welcome news for they go a long way towards re-leveling the playing field for employers when they litigate election issues and conduct election campaigns.
Continue Reading Christmas Comes Early for Employers at the NLRB — New Election Procedures That Give Employers a Greater Opportunity to Mount Legal Challenges to Election Petitions and to Effectively Campaign Against Unionization