Overview: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) was created to enforce the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which prohibits employers from engaging in certain conduct that interferes, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of their rights. The NLRB essentially acts as a panel of judges to hear and prevent unfair labor practices. It has numerous powers including the power to issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents, as well as ordering any person to "cease and desist" from an unfair labor practice and to provide remedies. The NLRB has further power to petition any US court of appeals to enforce any order of the board, subject to the full contempt powers of the US courts for noncompliance.
Although many private non-union employers have not had much experience with the NLRB, they should be aware, however, that there are very few exceptions as to what is defined as an employer and employee under the NLRA. Therefore, private non-union employers should acquaint themselves with the NLRA and the NLRB process because they are not immune from being subject to an unfair labor practice charge.
Trends: Recent NLRB decisions have caused a stir among employers - both union and non-union. The NLRB has been on a crusade targeting employer policies that it considers a violation of an employee's right to engage in a protected concerted activity under the NLRA. Social media policies, confidentiality provisions, at-will clauses, and arbitration agreements have all been under recent scrutiny. According to the NLRB, even a policy requiring employees to be courteous may be unlawful!
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect a legal development regarding the right of taxicab and for-hire drivers to unionize in Seattle.
The Supreme Court has ruled that then President Obama exceeded his authority in allowing Lafe Solomon to serve as the NLRB's interim general counsel while he was awaiting Senate confirmation for the permanent general counsel position. The ruling is significant in that it could apply to any future temporary agency appointments that President Trump might consider.
President Trump moved quickly to fill the Secretary of Labor role, nominating Alexander (Alex) Acosta less than 24 hours after his first nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew when it appeared he did not have the votes to be confirmed by the Senate. Acosta would be the first Latino member of Trump's cabinet if confirmed.
The US Supreme Court will wait to hear a trio of mandatory arbitration cases involving class action waivers in employment until its next term, which does not begin until October. The delay makes it more likely that Supreme Court nominee Neal Gorsuch, if confirmed, will be in a position to cast a possible decisive vote.
Revised title to reflect the comprehensiveness and topics relating to the National Labor Relations Act and applicable federal labor laws.
President Trump has taken steps to shift the direction of the NLRB and EEOC in naming Philip Miscimarra and Victoria Lipnic as acting chairs of these agencies. Both are Republicans who often dissented from employee-friendly rulings and regulations in recent years.
Enhanced to improve comprehensiveness and organization, and to enhance the user experience.
The 9th Circuit's ruling in Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP, deepens a split between the circuits, increasing the odds that the Supreme Court eventually will resolve the question of whether arbitration agreements may include class action waivers.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has held that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants are statutory employees under labor law and, therefore, are entitled to unionize and collectively bargain for better working conditions.
In Miller & Anderson, Inc., the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employer consent is not required for bargaining units that combine contingent and regular employees so long as the employees share a community of interest.
HR guidance on the NLRB and enforcement against unfair labor practices.