While “employees” have the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), supervisors are not employees under the statute and do not have the same rights. Under current case law, “supervisor” is interpreted broadly and employees who merely assign duties to other employees on a daily basis are statutory supervisors under the Act. As expected and as we previewed in a prior posting, Senate Democrats recently announced new legislation that would narrow the definition of “supervisor” under the NLRA, increasing the number of workers eligible to join unions.
President Obama’s recent recess appointments to the NLRB leave one Republican among three liberal Democrats. Should the opportunity present itself, the Board’s new composition will likely result in the overturning of two employer-friendly cases, Register Guard (email policy) and Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. (supervisory status). Overturning either of these cases may produce highly unfavorable results for employers. The Board already has such an opportunity in Register Guard. The D.C. Circuit recently remanded Register Guard for reconsideration on a limited basis, but the Board may seize the opportunity to reverse its initial holding.
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