Chicago partner Stephanie Gournis was quoted in a Bloomberg BNA article titled, “Time Runs Out in NLRB Battle Over Co-Worker Reps.” Time has run out for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to grant non-unionized employees a right to co-worker representation in investigatory interviews with management.
Though the NLRB has changed course four times over the last 35 years, its most recent ruling in 2004 stated that non-union workers do not have any such right under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Stephanie notes that the back-and-forth rulings have been cited by critics as a vivid example of the NLRB’s ability to “flip flop” when the NLRB’s composition changes based on presidential appointments. But the merits of the legal issue are just as important.
Employees view an extension of representation rights into the non-union workplace as a “win-win” option that they could use or not use during an employer investigation, Stephanie said. Employers, on the other hand, would be alarmed that giving employees representation rights would add an “administrative layer” to disciplinary procedures and could disrupt one-on-one communications between managers and employees.