NLRB Issues Primer On Supervisory Status

Alternative Concepts, 358 NLRB No. 38 April 27, 2012, is an interesting case. The Board reaffirms the Oakwood line of cases and summarizes the applicable law as follows:

The Board set out the analytical framework for determiningsupervisory status in Oakwood Healthcare, 348 NLRB 686 2006, in which it defined the statutory terms“assign,” “responsibly to direct,” and “independentjudgment.” See also Croft Metals, 348 NLRB 717, 721–722 2006, and Golden Crest Healthcare Center, 348NLRB 727, 728, 731 2006. The burden of provingsupervisory status rests on the party asserting that suchstatus exists. Oakwood Healthcare, 348 NLRB at 694,citing Dean & Deluca New York, 338 NLRB 1046, 10472003. The party seeking to prove supervisory statusmust establish it by a preponderance of the evidence. Id.at 1047–1048; Springfield Terrace LTD, 355 NLRB 937,941 2010. Mere inferences or conclusionary statements,without detailed, specific evidence, are insufficientto establish supervisory authority. Golden CrestHealthcare Center, 348 NLRB at 731; Lynwood Manor,350 NLRB 489, 490 2007.

Like the other statutory indicia of supervisory status,the authority to assign and responsibly to direct otheremployees are not determinative of supervisory statusunless they are exercised using independent judgment.To exercise “independent judgment,” an individual mustact or effectively recommend action “free of the controlof others,” using a degree of discretion rising above “themerely routine or clerical.” Oakwood Healthcare, 348NLRB at 693.In Oakwood Healthcare, 348 NLRB at 689, the Boardexplained that assignment means designating an employeeto a place such as a location, department, orwing, appointing an employee to a time such as a shiftor overtime period, or giving an employee significantoverall duties as opposed to ad hoc instructions that theemployee perform a discrete task. There must be specificevidence that a putative supervisor “has the abilityto require that a certain action be taken; supervisory authorityis not established where the putative supervisorhas the authority merely to request that a certain actionbe taken.” Golden Crest Healthcare Center, 348 NLRBat 729.The Board in Oakwood Healthcare, 348 NLRB at 691,also interpreted the meaning of the phrase “responsiblyto direct”: “If a person on the shop floor has ‘men underhim,’ and if that person decides ‘what job shall be undertakennext or who shall do it,’ that person is a supervisor,provided that the direction is both ‘responsible’ and carriedout with independent judgment.” The Board furtherheld that, for direction to be “responsibl[e],” the persondirecting the performance of a task must be accountablefor its performance. To establish accountability for purposesof responsible direction, the party with the burdenof proof must show that “the employer delegated to theputative supervisor the authority to direct the work [ofothers] and the authority to take corrective action, if necessary,”and also that “there is a prospect of adverse consequencesfor the putative supervisor” if the putativesupervisor “does not take these steps.”12 Id. at 692. Evidenceof actual accountability must be present to proveresponsible direction. Alstyle Apparel, 351 NLRB 1287,1287 2007; Golden Crest Healthcare Center, 348 NLRB at 731.B.We find that neither the crew dispatchers nor line controllers are statutory supervisors.

via Adjunct Law Prof Blog: NLRB Issues Primer On Supervisory Status.

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