NLRB sides with nurses union in six-year-old dispute

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

A Brick social services organization committed an unfair labor practice when it began cracking down on nurses who administered medications after the employees joined a union, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

St. John’s Community Services fired Nia Gibson in 2004 for violating medical protocols shortly after nurses voted to be represented by the AFL-CIO. Gibson was the union’s representative at St. John’s Community Services, which is based in Washington, D.C., and runs several group homes in New Jersey.

The organization fired Gibson after her first violation of the employer’s medication administration policy. Bill Loyd, St. John’s state director told Gibson, “with all this stuff with the union, everything goes through our lawyers now, and we have to go by the book.”

In testimony before the NLRB, St. John’s could produce no specific example of another employee being terminated for breaking the meds rules just once.

As a result of the board’s ruling, Gibson will be reinstated.

Advice: Don’t be a sore loser if your employees vote to unionize. Targeting employees who supported unionization or union representatives violates the National Labor Relations Act. Also, the NLRB is now considerably more pro-union than at any time in recent memory. Employers should behave accordingly.

Note: The NLRB originally ruled on this case in 2006, reaching the same conclusion. But at the time, the board consisted of only two members.

The White House and Congress were engaged in an ideological standoff over labor relations, and NLRB nominations ground to a halt. That deadlock meant the NLRB operated with only two members for 27 months, until President Obama made recess appointments to bring the board to its five-member full strength.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all rulings made by boards consisting of fewer than three members. Thus the rehearing of this case.

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