Features, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, National

NLRB Eyes Ending Protections for Workers Suing Employers

May 20, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb is looking for ways to end workers’ protections against retaliation for actions not directly related to collective bargaining. While the National Labor Relations Act prohibits employers from punishing workers for collective action for “mutual aid or protection,” Robb’s office is arguing that the Supreme Court’s 2018 Epic Systems decision that let employers force workers to sign arbitration agreements giving up the right to class-action suits was an “implicit holding” that the law doesn’t protect workers suing their employers. The general counsel has since recommended that the board dismiss three California construction workers’ claim against their employer, which imposed mandatory arbitration after they sued it for wage theft. The NLRB ruled in the workers’ favor in 2015, but a federal appeals court sent their case back to the board after the Epic Systems decision. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion argued that while Section 7 covers “the right to organize unions and bargain collectively,” it’s unlikely that it “confers a right to class or collective actions.” “I see this as the general counsel doing real damage to the NLRA’s power and workers’ ability to get relief,” Celine McNicholas, labor counsel at the Economic Policy Institute, told Bloomberg Law. Read more

May 20, 2019

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