NLRB Authority Does Have Limits

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit announced its ruling in a case the NAM filed with regard to posting notices in the workplace. The legal questions raised by the Board issuing a rule proactively regulating virtually every employer in the country are unique in some ways and very simple in others.

During oral argument before the Court of Appeals, one judge asked the attorney representing the Board a basic question. What, if any, limits are there on the NLRB’s authority? The attorney quickly – and shockingly – responded that in the Board’s view there are no limits to their power. Yesterday, the Court issued a strong rebuke to that line of thinking and highlighted the shaky ground the NLRB is on with regard to its agenda.

In the four-page concurring opinion, Judges Henderson and Brown stated: “And the Congress, in enacting the NLRA, prescribed that the Board use reactive means to enforce its policies – namely, through an unfair labor practice proceeding initiated by a charging party or by resolving representations and election issues when so petitioned by a party.” (Emphasis in original) In concluding the concurring opinion, Judge Henderson wrote, “In sum, given the Act’s language and structure are manifestly remedial, I do not believe Congress intended to authorize a regulation so aggressively prophylactic as the posting rule.”

The NAM agrees, which is why the lawsuit was filed. The ruling and concurring opinion released yesterday were spot on – and now the Board has been put on the spot. Do they double-down and petition the Supreme Court or do they finally acknowledge there are limits to the power they wield?

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