Richard F. Griffin, General Counsel for the NLRB, has instructed regional offices to reimbursement of job search costs and work­related expenses that employees incur due to violations of the NLRA. Memorandum GC 15­01.


Mr. Griffin also issued guidance to NLRB regional offices on applying new arbitration deferral standards in the wake of the Board’s Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co. decision. In the decision, the Board stated that it would defer to arbitral decisions where “(1) the arbitrator was explicitly authorized to decide the unfair labor practice issue; (2) the arbitrator was presented with and considered the statutory issue, or was prevented from doing so by the party opposing deferral; and (3) Board law reasonably permits the award.” Mr. Griffin’s guidance provides pattern letters for communicating with parties about deferral in unfair labor practices cases and describes situations in which regional offices should submit cases to the Board’s Division of Advice. Memorandum GC 15­ 02.


An NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has ordered Novelis Corporation to recognize and bargain with the USW, despite the latter having lost an NLRB­supervised representation election by 14 votes. The ALJ made the unusual decision after finding that Novelis repeatedly violated the NLRA leading up to the vote, resulting in the union’s defeat. Among the “hallmark violations” noted by the ALJ were “threats of plant closure, threats of loss of employment, the grant of benefits to employees, and the reassignment, demotion, or discharge of union adherents.” Novelis Corporation.


The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the Illinois Central Railroad Co.’s request for a permanent injunction against the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE), a division of the Teamsters. The injunction was granted to avoid irreparable harm to Illinois Central, which would occur were the BMWE to follow through with a threatened strike over a dispute about retroactive pay increases. The dispute arose from the implementation of a new collective bargaining agreement. In granting the injunction, the judge found that the dispute concerned the interpretation of a labor contract, making it a “minor” dispute under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The judge further granted summary judgment to Illinois Central, holding that under the RLA, such minor disputes must be resolved through arbitration. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co. v. Teamsters.


An Ohio jury awarded a nurse $2 million in her lawsuit against Affinity Medical Center for defamation of character. The lawsuit arose from Affinity firing nurse Ann Wayt and seeking to have her license revoked in retaliation for her organizing efforts at a for­profit hospital. Wayt was previously restored to her position and awarded back pay and restitution of benefit losses by an ALJ, who also ordered the hospital to cease its efforts to have Wayt’s license revoked. The jury awarded Wayt $800,000 in compensatory damages, $750,000 in punitive damages, and all legal costs. Wayt v. Community Health Sys. Inc.


The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina granted summary judgment to Durham School Services LP, a school bus company, in a dispute with Teamsters, Local 509, which represents school bus drivers and aides. Durham sued the union after a union­management grievance panel was unable to determine whether cleaning and repair work was fairly claimable by the union as bargaining unit work. The court held that the union was liable under section 303(a) of the Labor­Management Relations Act (LMRA) for violating section 8(b)(4) of the NLRA by pressuring the school bus company to cease doing business with outside entities that provided cleaning and repair services. Durham is entitled to yet­to­be­determined damages. Durham Sch. Servs., LP v. Teamsters Local 509.


A three­judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded an NLRB order directing Ozark Automotive Distributors Inc. to bargain with its route drivers, represented by the Teamsters, Local 166, following a representation election. The court held that the NLRB erred in vacating subpoenas filed by Ozark Automotive in its appeal of the election. Ozark Automotive sought to prove that union agents engaged in threats, harassment, and coercion in their effort to win the election. Citing the General Counsel’s Guide for Hearing Officers, the court stated that the NLRB hearing officer should have conducted an in­camera review of the evidence sought by Ozark Automotive. O’Reilly Auto Parts v. NLRB.


The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction forcing a Jobs Corps center to hire a residential advisor while the NLRB determines whether the candidate was denied employment because of her history as a union officer, in violation of the NLRA. The court issued the injunction because it was satisfied that the NLRB was likely to find that Adams & Associates Inc. was aware that Genesther Taylor was a union president at Horizon Youth Services, a predecessor firm, and that Adams did not hire her for that reason. Adams stated that Taylor was unqualified for the position and that she was “inappropriate and quite demanding” in her interview. Frankl v. Adams & Assocs., Inc.


The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved an agreement between the Teamsters and federal prosecutors that will phase out federal oversight of the union’s internal affairs over the next five years. The Teamsters have been under federal supervision since 1989 pursuant to a consent decree that resulted from a civil lawsuit against the Teamsters under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.


An ALJ held that United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the NLRA by requiring employees of Ralph’s Grocery Co. to show up at the union’s office to voice their objections to paying full membership dues under a collective bargaining agreement. The union attempted to justify the policy by arguing that it had a legitimate interest in meeting new employees to inform them about the benefits of union membership. ALJ Amita Baman Tracy determined that the policy, under which employees were misled into believing that they could be fired for not visiting the union office, illegally restrained and coerced the employees. The ALJ additionally found that the union violated the NLRA by failing to provide an employee with a detailed apportionment of its expenditures for representational and non­representational activities. Ralph’s Grocery Co.


Associate General Counsel Barry J. Kearney of the NLRB’s Division of Advice released a memorandum rejecting a claim that Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. violated an employee’s right to union representation by searching the employee’s company vehicle outside of the presence of a union representative. The Division of Advice determined that the employee was not entitled to union representation because the vehicle search was not an interview or a continuation of an interview. The search for marijuana, which instead led to the discovery of a pornographic DVD, resulted in a written warning for the employee. Sw. Bell Tel. Co.


A divided NLRB held that Battle’s Transportation Inc. violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by requiring that its employees sign confidentiality agreements that were interpreted as prohibiting employees from discussing their employment conditions or participating in complaints or investigations related to their employment. The agreement barred disclosure of confidential information “belonging to the employer,” including “human resources related information,” information related to investigations by outside agencies,” and financial information. NLRB Member Harry I. Johnson dissented, determining that a reasonable reading of the agreement confirmed that Battle’s employees were not limited in exercising their NLRA­guaranteed rights. All three members agreed, however, that Battle’s violated the NLRA by issuing a memorandum stating that employees were “not to communicate any [of] Battle’s company business with [their] clients,” holding that the reference to “company business” would be interpreted by employees to restrict their discussion of their own employment conditions. Battle’s Transp., Inc.