Unlawful Firings, Interference in Union Activity Subject to Penalties

The new general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, has issued a series of memos recently that signal a change in the NLRB’s treatment of Unfair Labor Practices. Regional offices can now use broad discretion to issue harsher penalties to employers found violating federal labor law. A September memo encouraged the regional boards to seek significant damages and to impose a wide array of “remedies available to ensure that victims of unlawful conduct are made whole for losses suffered as a result of unfair labor practices.”

The memo continues to outline a variety of far more worker-friendly, union friendly NLRB directives for the Regions, including ordering:

  • Union access to employee contact information and employer bulletin boards, along with equal time to address employees if they’ve been subject to “captive audience” meetings by their employers.
  • Reimbursement of organizational costs if an employer has engaged in unlawful conduct during an election such that an election is set aside.
  • Extended posting periods for notices where the unfair labor practices have been pervasive and occurred over significant periods of time.
  • Training of employees, including supervisors and managers, both current and new, on employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act and/or compliance with the Board’s Orders.
  • Issuance of “broad cease and desist orders” for interference in employees’ rights under the NLRA.
  • Abruzzo’s memos send a message to employers that the NLRB’s focus is shifting to favor employee and union rights in the workplace. ■