An employer’s use of implied benefits to an employee, coupled with the threat of discharge and reprisals in an effort to coerce him into refraining from union activity, violates the National Labor Relations Act (“the Act”). At an arbitration hearing between the union and employer, a new employee failed to testify on behalf of the employer and inadvertently gave the thumb’s up in support of the Union’s position. The employee’s conduct was viewed by the employer as pro-union and the employer began disciplining the employee, ultimately terminating his employment. The National Labor Relations Board (“the Board”) applied the analytical framework established in Wright Line and held that the employee’s conduct during the hearing was protected union activity that motivated the employer’s warnings, suspensions, and discharge in violation of the Act. In order to remedy the violation the Board ordered the employer to reinstate the employee to his previous job, or a substantially equivalent job, within 14 days and to compensate him for any loss of earnings resulting from his termination. A non-union employee’s participation in an arbitral hearing can be considered a protected union activity and reprisals stemming from such conduct violate the Act.
Matter of 833 Central Owners Corp. & Local 621, United Workers of America, 359 NLRB No. 66 (2013); Wright Line, 251 NLRB 1083 (1980), enf’d. 662 F.2d 899 (1st Cir. 1981); NLRA §§ 3, 8(a)(1).
(Development authored by John Marsella)