NLRB overturns Trump-era employee discipline ruling

The National Labor Relations Board has overturned a Trump Administration-era ruling and re-established standards that make it more difficult for companies to discharge or discipline employees for protected activity.

The agency said in a statement Monday that its 2-1 ruling in Lion Elastomers LLC II overturns the prior board’s 2020 decision in General Motors LLC.

This week’s decision involved an employee of Port Neches, Texas-based Lion Elastomers LLC, a synthetic rubber producer, who was discharged because he engaged in union activity.

The NLRB said in its statement that the General Motors board had rejected traditional standards, which focus on the severity of the employee’s misconduct and the context in which it took place, and instead adopted a standard that makes it easier for employers to sanction misconduct that takes place as part of protected activity.

General Motors marked a sweeping change in Federal labor law,” the majority opinion said. 

“No Federal appellate court has ever held that the (National Labor Relations) Act prohibits the Board from adopting setting-specific standards that, within limits, treat employee conduct as inseparable from the statutorily protected activity during which it occurs.”

NLRB Chairman Lauren McFerran said in a statement, “The General Motors decision broke sharply with judicially approved precedent and did not give adequate consideration to the importance of workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

“To fully protect employee rights, conduct during protected concerted activity must be evaluated in the context of that important activity — not as if it occurred in the ordinary workplace context.”

In his dissenting opinion, Republican member Marvin E. Kaplan said that the majority “reflexively scrap the Board’s carefully considered change in direction without giving it time to prove its worth.”



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