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NLRB Recess Appointments Challenged — Could Further Postpone Notice Posting

By:  Evan Rosen

As Hospitalty Labor and Employment Law Blog readers are aware, on August 30, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) issued a rule requiring employers to post notices informing employees of their right to join or form a union.  We blogged about the impact of the notice and its requirements on hospitality employers here.  The rule was originally supposed to go into effect in November, but was subsequently pushed back to January 31, 2012 as a result of mounting criticism against the rule.  Indeed, several lawsuits have been filed by business groups alleging that the Board overstepped its discretion in imposing the rule on employers.  A federal judge in one of the cases recently asked the Board to further postpone the posting requirement so that the legal challenges could be heard, and the Board agreed, this time postponing the rule’s implementation to April 30, 2012

The rule’s implementation could be further complicated by President Obama’s recent recess appointments to the Board.  On January 5, 2011, three new members were appointed to the NLRB bringing it up to its full compliment of 5 members.  Because the recess appointments were appointed while the Senate conducted pro forma sessions — and thus was not technically in recess — several business groups and Congressional leaders have criticized the appointments.  In the lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business challenging the NLRB’s posting requirement, the NFIB, last week, filed an amended complaint asserting new claims that the recess appointments were unconstitutional and illegal.  If the claims are successful, the Board could lose its three recess appointments, leaving it down to only 2 members which would fall below quorum and prevent the Board from issuing any rules or decisions.

Whether the recess appointments stand and the notice posting is implemented remains to be seen but it brings a lot of uncertainly to hospitaity employers with respect to NLRB compliance.  This is particularly true where unions have been aggressively seeking new hospitality employers to organize.  Stay tuned!