How is an unfair labor practice charge filed and processed?

Author: Jed L. Marcus, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

A union or an employee, as a charging party, may file an unfair labor practice charge with the particular National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office that has jurisdiction over employers in that particular geographical region. Typically, the charging party meets with an intake officer, who takes the unfair labor practice charge and discusses the matter is some detail. Thereafter, a NLRB agent will be assigned to investigate the case. During the investigative stage, the employer will have the opportunity to respond to the union's or employee's allegations with a position statement that sets forth the employer's version of the facts and understanding of the law.

Once the investigation is concluded, the matter will be discussed with the NLRB agent's supervisor, the Regional Attorney and the Regional Director. If the NLRB Regional Director believes that the employer violated the law, he or she will file a complaint against the employer. Sometimes, when the law is not entirely clear, the Regional Director seeks advice from the NLRB's General Counsel in Washington, D.C. who will give an opinion as to whether a complaint should be issued. If a complaint is issued, a fact hearing will be conducted before an administrative law judge who has the power to rule for or against the employer. If the employer loses the case, he or she may appeal to the NLRB's office in Washington, D.C. If the employer loses there, he or she has the right to appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately to the Supreme Court.