Our firm’s latest “Advisory” just went out this afternoon explaining the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals‘ ruling from last Friday that President Obama’s “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional, and therefore the Board was without the required quorum to act in a case from last year in which it found a soda-bottling company had committed an unfair labor practice.
This case involves a fascinating legal issue of the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers between the Legislative and Executive branches (at least for those who find such things fascinating). This decision is also good news for a particular soda-bottling company that challenged the NLRB’s decision.
But most importantly, this decision provides a ground to challenge virtually any decision made by the NLRB since January 4, 2012 — when the recess appointments (that have now been ruled invalid) were made by the President. This could be HUGE, since the Board in the last year has issued numerous decisions setting out labor-friendly positions on topics including employment-at-will policies, social media use by employees, and the confidentiality of workplace investigations. Likewise, in the last year the Board has overturned numerous labor law decisions favorable to employers, many of which had stood for decades. If the Board was without power to act, its recent aggressive, employee and union-friendly decisions would be invalid too.
In short, this recent decision by the D.C. Circuit — if upheld in a (likely) appeal — could lead to the undoing of a year’s worth of the NLRB’s employee-leaning efforts and rulings.
We will keep you updated on this case and any appeals. But while the NLRB will keep going forward with its “business as usual” approach, its actions are now clearly subject to challenge. Whether you have a unionized workforce or not, this just got really interesting!