Company Loses Unfair Labor Practice Charge Because It Could Not Show Lateness Was Reason for Termination

Several employees at a meat packing plant had begun supporting efforts by the Laborers’ Union to organize employees. One employee joined in on lunchroom talks about the benefits of a union and voiced his support for the Union. About a month later, the Company laid off several employees, including the employee just mentioned.

The Company responded to the Union’s unfair labor practice charge by arguing that it had not terminated the employee for supporting the organizing efforts, rather it terminated him because he arrived late to work seven times between January and March of 2009. However, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that the Company did not present enough evidence to show it would have otherwise terminated him for his tardiness. Most significantly, a different employee, who was tardy eight times, was not discharged.

This case demonstrates the importance of carefully documenting disciplinary actions, as such documents will become relevant in defending against unfair labor practice charges. This case would likely have turned out much differently had the Company shown that other employees had been terminated for consistent tardiness.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.

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