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Keahn Morris is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.

On June 23, the National Labor Relations Board’s (Board or NLRB) issued a decision in Mountaire Farms, Inc., 5-RD-256888 in which the Board granted review of a Regional Director’s decision applying the Board’s contract bar doctrine, finding that the case presented substantial issues warranting the NLRB’s review and announcing its intention to establish a schedule for the filing of briefs on review and inviting amicus briefs.  On July 7, the Board acted on that intention and issued a Notice and Invitation To File Briefs in the case (Notice).
Continue Reading Board Invites Briefs and Signals a Possible Shift in Its Contract Bar Rules

As we previously discussed earlier this month, District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued an Order in American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations v. National Labor Relations Board, Civil Case No. 2020-0675, invalidating five of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB or Board) soon-to-be implemented new elections rules (2019 rules).  Issued in haste on May 30 to head off the Board’s May 31 implementation of the new rules, Judge Jackson’s Order offered little explanation for her decision except to say that she found each of the challenged new election procedure rules unlawful and set them aside because they were “not procedural rules” exempted from the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements.
Continue Reading Judge Jackson Explains the Basis for Her Invalidation of the Board’s Election Regulations

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

Last December, we addressed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB or Board) new rules applicable to all NLRB-conducted elections.  As then reported, these new rules partially reversed election rules implemented in 2014 and were designed to address many of the concerns raised by the Board’s 2014 rules changes.  Specifically, the Trump Board has repeatedly expressed concern that the timeframe prior to a pre-election hearing was too truncated to allow the parties to adequately prepare for hearing and meet their many regulatory obligations.  Originally scheduled to take effect April 16, 2020, implementation was later postponed and rescheduled to take effect on May 31.
Continue Reading The NLRB Reacts to Court’s Eleventh-Hour Partial Injunction of the Agency’s New Election Rules

From time to time, employers trigger labor disputes when they make unilateral changes in working conditions.  Unions objecting to such changes often complain to the NLRB, claiming a change to be mandatory bargaining subjects and that the employer’s change without prior bargaining violates the NLRA’s Sections 8(a)(5) and (d).
Continue Reading Why, How and When Katz May “Trump” an Expired CBA When It Comes to Making Unilateral Changes — The Relationship Between MV Transportation and Raytheon Network

In Apogee Retail, 368 NLRB No. 144 (2019), the NLRB overruled the Obama Board’s decision in Banner Estrella Medical Center, 362 NLRB 1108 (2015) and held that investigative confidentiality rules that by their terms apply only to investigation participants and last only for the duration of an investigation are categorically lawful because the justifications for such rules are self evident and predictably outweigh the comparatively slight potential for such rules to interfere with the exercise of Section 7 rights.  In this day and age of workplace harassment claims and internal investigations, Apogee was welcome news for employers because it ended the legal requirement that an employer prove that it had a particularized, legitimate and substantial business justification for compulsory confidentiality and because that said justification outweighed employee Section 7 rights in order for such prohibitions to be adjudged lawful.
Continue Reading Keep a Lid on It – The Trump NLRB Reaffirms Employer Ability to Enforce Investigative Confidentiality Rules

The National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) is a federal law that applies to nearly all employers in the United States.  In the wake of COVID-19, there are numerous issues implicating the NLRA, including but not limited to employees engaging in protected concerted activities including work stoppages, the potential duty to bargain with unions concerning COVID-19 programs/policies, layoffs and plant closures in response to government directives and orders, union information requests, and union inspections.  The COVID-19 outbreak presents a virtually unprecedented situation for employers.  The appropriate responses to these issues depend on a variety of different factors, including the timing, specific employer, the particular industry involved, the employer’s collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), and the status of guidance and orders from federal, state and local governments and agencies concerning COVID-19 (with guidance and recommendations not necessarily having the same weight as orders and laws).  Whereas a particular response may be appropriate for healthcare employers, airlines, employers in the supply chain, or employers impacted by “stay at home” orders (like in California), that same response may not be appropriate for other industries and employers.
Continue Reading Labor Issues Concerning COVID-19 and Government “Stay at Home” Orders

Today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) followed through on its earlier promise and issued its Joint Employer Final Rule, officially reversing the Board’s 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) decision[1] and conclusively establishing the legal ground rules under which otherwise separate business entities may be legally joined and determined to be joint employers for the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act).  Prospective only in effect, this new rule will be published in the Federal Register and go into effect on April 27, 2020.
Continue Reading The Trump NLRB Finally Issues Its Much Awaited “Joint Employer” Rule

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 (Board or NLRB) gifted employers a significant win on the eve of the Christmas holiday with its December 23 decision in United Parcel Service, Inc., 369 NLRB No. 1 (UPS), which announced a return to the decades-old standard for deferring to arbitral decisions in unfair labor practice cases alleging discharge or discipline in violation of Section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act). The Board continues to reshape the Act with new decisions that reverse precedents and undo legal restrictions placed on employers during the Obama administration, and its decision in UPS is just the latest in a string of employer-friendly decisions issued this month alone, including Caesars Entertainment, 368 NLRB No. 143 (December 17, 2019)(overruling Purple Communications and freeing up employers to ban employees from using Company-owned computers during their non-work time to engage in protected concerted or union activities); Apogee Retail, LLC, 368 NLRB No. 144 (December 17, 2019)(overruling Banner Health, allowing employers to require employees to keep workplace investigations confidential and banning them from discussing them with other employees); and Valley Hospital Medical Center, 368 NLRB No. 139 (December 16, 2019)(holding that an employer is free to unilaterally cease union dues checkoff after a CBA expires). Our recent blog article addressing these critical decisions can be found here.
Continue Reading NLRB Reinstates Broad Deferral of Discrimination Cases to Arbitration, Overruling the Obama Board’s 2014 Decision in Babcock & Wilcox