Court “Baffled” By NLRB’s “Interpretive Leap”

By Mike Grubbs

The NLRB took an unjustified “interpretive leap” when it found that a hospital president’s statement about union negotiations conveyed a threat and violated federal labor law. Flagstaff Med. Ctr. Inc. v. NLRB, D.C. Cir., No. 11-1326 (April 26, 2013).

In this case, the hospital president told employees that if they voted to unionize they would no longer be negotiating with him directly. The NLRB held that the statement constituted a threat that the medical center would stop negotiating entirely. However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, stating that it was “baffled by the Board’s interpretation” of the president’s statement. In context, the statement was not about the hospital’s “willingness to negotiate” with the union, but was instead “a statement about [the president’s] own attendance at whatever meetings occur.”

Although employers may be hard pressed to find success at the NLRB level, employers may find more balance taking the case to an appellate court.

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