Wyatt Employment Law Report


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U.S. Supreme Court Finds that Lafe Solomon’s Service as Acting NLRB General Counsel Violated the FVRA

By Courtney Samford

On March 21, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court finally resolved the issue of Lafe Solomon’s role as Acting General Counsel of the NLRB in National Labor Relations Board v. SW General, Inc.  In an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court held that Solomon’s position as Acting General Counsel violated The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“FVRA”) once he was nominated by then President Obama for the permanent position.  Generally, Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to obtain Senate approval to appoint “Officers of the United States,” but the FVRA allows the President to appoint a limited class of individuals to serve as acting officers on a temporary basis until a replacement can be confirmed by the Senate.  Pursuant to the FVRA, certain individuals who are nominated for a permanent position may not serve as an acting officer.

In June 2010, a vacancy arose in the general counsel position for the NLRB.  Then President Obama appointed Solomon to serve as Acting General Counsel on a temporary basis, and several months later, nominated him to serve as the General Counsel.  Solomon’s temporary position did not require Senate confirmation, but the permanent position did.  However, the Senate refused to act on Solomon’s nomination, and Obama was forced to Continue reading


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New NLRB Election Statistics Reveal Union Weakness

By George J. Miller

It has been one year since the National Labor Relations Board’s so-called “ambush” or “quickie” election rule went into effect. According to the Board, the rule was “designed to remove unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of representation cases” and “streamline” the process.  In simpler terms, it was intended to speed up the process, something which organized labor and its supporters wanted so that employers would have less time to campaign before the election or, in the jaundiced view of organized labor, less time to intimidate voters.  Organized labor contended that the old process favored employers and was unfair, and that the new rule was needed to “level the playing field.”

Last week, the NLRB released data about the effects of the new rule.  As expected, the process is much faster.  In cases in which unions filed the election petition, the median number of days between the date of the filing of the election petition and the date of the election fell from 38 days in the preceding year (April 2014 to April 2015) to 24 days in the past year (April 2015 to April 2016).  This is a 37% reduction.  In cases in which the unions and employers entered into Continue reading


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McDonald’s Loses Another Round at the NLRB

By George J. Miller

McDonald'sWebsiteOn March 17th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued another decision unfavorable to McDonald’s USA and certain McDonald’s franchisees. This was the Board’s fifth decision in this massive case, in which the unions and the Board’s General Counsel are trying to prove that McDonald’s and its franchisees are a joint employer of the franchisees’ employees, and McDonald’s is therefore responsible for any unfair labor practices of its franchisees. In the latest development, a two member majority of a three member NLRB panel agreed with an administrative law judge’s decision to severely limit the scope of documents which McDonald’s could subpoena from the unions and other non-party organizations which had assisted the unions in their efforts against McDonald’s.

The labor unions, which are the charging parties, are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Fast Food Workers Committee, Pennsylvania Workers Organizing Committee (a project of the Fast Food Workers Committee), Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, Los Angeles Organizing Committee, and Western Workers Organizing Committee.

The non-party organizations which received McDonald’s subpoenas are: Mintz Group, LLC, and LR Hodges & Associates, Ltd., both private investigative firms hired by the SEIU’s law firm; Berlin Rosen, Ltd., a firm specializing in public affairs and strategic communications; and New York Communities for Change, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy organization which Continue reading


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Eleventh Circuit Reverses NLRB & Finds Stagehands Are Independent Contractors

By Michael D. Hornback

Like me, I am sure some of you have attended an over-the-top concert and thought “Who puts up these stages and all of these lights?”  More importantly, who are the poor souls that are relegated to taking all of this stuff down after the concert is over (which must feel like that never ending drive back to reality after a vacation at the beach)?  Have you ever been to a concert and thought, “Hey, are these stagehands employees or independent contractors?”  Yeah, me neither.  However, that was the precise question before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Crew One Productions, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Case No. 15-10429.  I’ll save you the suspense, Continue reading


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NLRB’s Browning-Ferris Industries Decision to be Reviewed by Federal Court of Appeals

By George J. Miller

iStock_000008223650_FullIn the past two weeks there have been some important developments in the ongoing case against Browning-Ferris Industries of California (“BFI”).  Recall that in August 2015, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision in a union election case filed by Teamsters Local 350 against BFI and its labor contractor, Lead Point Business Services.  The Teamsters sought to represent a unit of employees in certain job classifications at a BFI recycling facility in California who were all supplied by Lead Point.  The Teamsters’ election petition sought a decision that BFI and Lead Point jointly employed these employees, but the NLRB Regional Director rejected the Union’s position, finding that under NLRB precedent at that time, BFI and Lead Point were not a joint employer.  The Regional Director directed an election which was held on April 25, 2014.  However, the employees’ ballots were impounded while the Teamsters sought and obtained review of the Regional Director’s decision by the NLRB.

In its August 2015 decision on review, a three member majority of the five member Board overruled the Board precedent relied upon by the Regional Director and found that BFI and Lead Point were a joint employer of these employees.  Although Lead Point hired and paid the wages and benefits of the employees, the Board concluded that BFI jointly employed them because it had significant Continue reading


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NLRB Rejects McDonald’s Procedural Motions

By George J. Miller

Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board issued two decisions rejecting procedural motions filed by McDonald’s, USA in the pending unfair labor practice cases filed against it and certain McDonald’s franchisees.  As background, in December 2014 the NLRB’s General Counsel issued 13 complaints involving 78 unfair labor practice charges filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees in 13 NLRB regional offices across the country.  The complaints allege various kinds of unfair labor practices against employees seeking to organize unions at McDonald’s restaurants (e.g., discrimination, discharges, surveillance, interrogation, threats).  Significantly, as has been well publicized, in addition to the substantive unfair labor practice allegations, the General Counsel is alleging that McDonald’s and its franchisees are a single employer and that, therefore, McDonald’s is jointly liable for any unfair labor practices committed by its franchisees.

Complaints from six NLRB regions (New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles) were consolidated for a trial that started in March 2015 in New York, then was scheduled to move to Chicago and finish in Los Angeles.  An NLRB Administrative Law Judge was assigned to preside over the case and hear the evidence.  In March 2015, over McDonald’s objection, the judge issued a pre-trial order ruling that Continue reading


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New Data Confirms Fears about NLRB “Ambush” Election Rule

By George J. Miller

When the National Labor Relations Board implemented its new union election rule in April of this year, the prediction was that the new procedure would shorten the time between the date of the filing of the election petition and the date of the election, something which labor unions and their supporters favored but which the business community opposed.  Those who opposed it referred to it as the “ambush” election rule.  Well, the prediction was correct.  In a recent newsletter, “Democracy at Work,” Region 9 of the NLRB reported that from October 2014 through April 2015, the median number of days between the filing of the petition and the date of the election was 41 days, while between May 2015 and early September 2015, after the new rule went into effect, the number had dropped to 24.5 days.  This is more than two full workweeks less for unions and employers to campaign, which gives unions an advantage, since they have been actively organizing employees—often without the employer’s knowledge–since well before the election petition is filed.  Experts who have studied union elections report that the outcome is usually determined by the one-third of employees who are undecided at the outset.  Twenty four days is not much time to educate employees about all of the issues in a campaign, some of which are common to all campaigns and some of which are specific to each campaign.  The reduced time available to campaign means that non-union employers will need to be more proactive in their efforts to remain non-union and not wait until a campaign gets started, when it could be too late.