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Third Circuit Reverses NLRB’s Determination In Favor of Union Workers

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that an employer’s threat and subsequent call to the police regarding union organizers on both public and company property did not violate 29 U.S.C. § 157 Section 8(a)(1). National Labor Relations Board v. ImageFirst Uniform Rental Service., No. 17-3680, 2018 WL 6614237 (3d Cir. December 18, 2018). The case arose from an incident in which ImageFirst, a health care laundry service provider, called the police on union members who were distributing pro-union literature on and near their Columbia, PA facility. The manager called the police and requested the union workers be removed from company property and a grassy area which abutted the road. The union ultimately filed a complaint and alleged that ImageFirst unlawfully interfered with union activities under 29 U.S.C. § 157 Section 8(a)(1). An administrative judge decided the trespassing was too insignificant to warrant a removal of the union members. The NLRB affirmed the decision.

In reversing, the Third Circuit Court found that substantial evidence did not support the finding by the NLRB that ImageFirst’s threat to call the police and the company’s call to the police were motivated solely by a desire to remove the union representatives from the public right-of-way. Rather, the Court concluded that “no reasonable fact finder could have failed to find that ImageFirst’s conduct was motivated by broader concerns over its property interests, implicated by the union representative’s repeated and ongoing forays onto its private property.” Therefore, the company’s concern was reasonable and the Court denied enforcement of the NLRB findings.

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