Federal Court Refuses to Force National Labor Relations Board to Reopen Wrongful Termination Case

When workers are party to a collective bargaining agreement, they typically have rights beyond those generally afforded to employees under the law.

When an employer runs afoul of the provisions of such an agreement, there may be consequences, including an Atlanta employment law claim and/or proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

If a party is aggrieved by the decision of the Board, there is the possibility of further review from an appellate court.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the petitioner was a private security contractor that provided protective services to the Internal Revenue Service. Under the agreement between the contractor and the IRS, the contractor was obligated to ensure that the guards that it hired to perform work for the IRS conformed to certain, specifically enumerated standards of conduct. To this end, the contractor designed a discipline system that it intended to use in order to monitor the guard’s compliance with the applicable conduct standards. In addition to the contractor’s discipline system, the IRS had its own system, which allowed it to “short-circuit” the contractor’s system and require that any non-conforming guard be removed immediately.

After three particular guards “misbehaved,” the contractor first suspended and later terminated the guards. This consequence was much harsher than the contractor’s own discipline system required. It was so harsh, in fact, that the contractor was accused of having violated the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 in its actions. Following proceedings in front of the National Labor Relations Board, the contractor sought to provide an explanation for its actions, but the Board refused to reopen the administrative record to allow the contractor to explain that the IRS required it to fire the guards.

Decision of the Court

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied the contractor’s petition for review of the Board’s decision, finding that it was “entirely reasonable” for the Board to deny the contractor’s motion to reopen the record when the record supported the Board’s conclusion that doing so would not compel a different result. According to the court, the contractor’s request to amend its answer was solely for the purpose of arguing that the terminations were required by the IRS. The court found that the Board had looked beyond the contractor’s self-serving statement and determined that no one at the IRS ordered the contractor to remove the guards. Thus, according to the court, allowing the contractor to argue that the IRS “would have” required such was beside the point.

Hire an Atlanta Employment Law Attorney

The workplace is rife with potential issues between employers and employees. If you have experienced a situation in which you may have been treated unfairly or unlawfully, you have only a limited amount of time in which to take legal action. To talk to an experienced Atlanta employment law lawyer, please call Attorney John L. Mays at the Parks, Chesin & Walbert firm at 877-986-5529. Employment-related claims that are not pursued in a timely fashion are often deemed to have been waived, so it is important to speak to an attorney about your potential claim as soon as possible.