Wyatt Employment Law Report

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House Committee Holds Another Hearing on the NLRB

By Edwin S. Hopson

On September 22, 2011, the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), held a hearing entitled, “Culture of Union Favoritism: Recent Actions of the National Labor Relations Board.” The hearing focused on several decisions issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in late August just before the term of Chairman Liebman expired.  According to a press release, the Committee Chairman in his opening statement noted, “[t]hrough three decisions handed down in one afternoon, the board restricted workers’ right to a secret ballot election, undermined employers’ ability to maintain unity in the workplace, and created new barriers for those who wish to challenge union representation.  For anyone following the Obama board, this barrage of activist decisions – however unacceptable – was not unexpected. But for workers and job creators struggling to move this country forward, it is an outrage.”

 NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce’s response was:  “The National Labor Relations Board takes very seriously its obligation to enforce the law as enacted by Congress in a fair and even-handed way. Since August of last year, the Board issued more than 400 decisions, finding for employer interests in some, labor union interests in others, and individual employee interests in still others. In its hearing today, the Committee chose to focus on three decisions issued in late August. Two of them reversed previous Board rulings that were themselves highly controversial when they issued. The third clarified a confusing standard, allowing a group of Certified Nursing Assistants at a nursing home in Alabama to exercise their choice on union representation through a secret ballot election. Finally, the Board issued a rule which requires employers under the jurisdiction of the NLRB to post a notice of employee rights under our law, including the right to refrain from union activity, available for free download from our website. To my mind, these actions represent pursuit of the mission that Congress gave this agency – to protect worker free choice, promote collective bargaining and preserve labor peace.”

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House Labor Committee Holds ENDA Hearings

by George Miller

On September 23, 2009, the House Labor Committee opened hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 (H.R. 3017), otherwise referred to as ENDA.  ENDA is sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA) and has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress.  ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with fifteen or more employees.  Currently some, but not all, states prohibit discrimination on the basis of either sexual orientation or gender identity, and many municipalities have ordinances prohibiting such discrimination.  But if passed, ENDA would apply to all employers with fifteen or more employees everywhere in the country, except religious institutions that are exempt from coverage by equal employment laws.  At the opening hearing on September 23rd, testimony was taken from a number of witnesses, including Rep.Frank.  A video of his and other witnesses’ testimony, and the entire proceedings, can be found at  http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/labor/worker-rights/.