On March 8, 2024, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas dealt a serious blow to the National Labor Relations Board’s (the “Board”) efforts to further increase the reach of the National Labor Relations Act (“the NLRA”). Judge J. Campbell Barker struck down a final rule issued by the Board that would have drastically broadened the standard the Board applies to determine when employers are joint-employers for the purposes of federal labor law. The blow was delivered three days before the rule was set to take effect on March 11, 2024 following a 14-day stay order also issued by Judge Barker. Continue Reading Federal Judge’s Decision Deals Serious Blow to NLRB’s Joint Employer Rule and Continued Efforts to Expand Who Constitutes an Employer Under the NLRA

As we previously reported and discussed here, the Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC ruling has dramatically changed the threshold that will prompt the National Labor Relation Board (“NLRB”) to issue mandatory bargaining orders and is going to have a significant impact on the manner in which employers may respond to union organizing efforts. As the NLRB held in Cemex, if a union demands voluntary recognition based on a showing of majority support, the employer has two choices, which it must exercise within two weeks: (i) recognize and bargain with the union, or (ii) file a RM-Petition to initiate the NLRB conducting a secret ballot election. If the employer chooses the latter, and commits an unfair labor practice during the election period, the NLRB likely will require the employer to recognize and bargain with the union.Continue Reading Judge Issues First Post-Cemex Bargaining Order Despite Employer Winning Union Election

On August 31, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) adopted a broader test for what is considered “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”). Section 7 of the NLRA protects employees’ right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection, otherwise known as “protected concerted activity” or “PCA.” Whether an employee’s conduct qualifies as “concerted” depends on whether their activity is linked to those of other employees. On the other hand, whether the employee’s activity is for “mutual aid or protection” focuses on whether the employee(s) involved are seeking to improve their conditions of employment. This standard applies to union and union-free settings. Continue Reading NLRB Expands Scope of What Is Considered Protected Concerted Activity in Workplaces

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

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

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

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

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