Earlier today and as expected, the five-member NLRB announced that it had granted Northwestern University’s request to review NLRB Regional Director Peter Ohr’s decision that Northwestern’s scholarship football players are “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act. After the players vote in a secret ballot election tomorrow, April 25, the ballots will be impounded until the Board issues its eventual ruling. And in recognition of the novel issues raised in the case, the NLRB said that when it issues its briefing schedule, it would invite amicus briefs on the issue from other interested non-parties.
In reality, today’s announcement implies nothing about the ultimate result. As with any coach’s challenge and “booth review,” the replay officials at the NLRB may affirm, reverse or modify its Regional Director’s decision. So don’t change the channel if you’re enjoying this gridiron battle, but feel free to take advantage of the extended time out to grab a snack and the beverage of your choice. This may take a while.