Retail Store Wins Injunction Against In-Store Union Protest

Since 2011 unions have held demonstrations inside and in front of a retail store as part of a campaign to raise wages and improve working conditions of employees. Protestors would sing, chant, march, carry posters, or assemble “flash mobs.” The store filed suit in California state court accusing the unions of disruptive labor activities despite its cease and desist demands. The store also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB two months previously.

The Los Angeles Superior Court found that the stores are not a public forum and that the unions had unlawfully trespassed. The trespassing had substantially or irreparably harmed the store. The just issued the injunction barring the unions from sending people inside the store to engage in unlawful activity.

On appeal, the union argued unsuccessfully that the court did not have jurisdiction to enter an injunction because the matter was preempted by the NLRA since the retailer had filed a charge with the NLRB. The three-judge panel said National Labor Relations Act does not preempt retailers from filing trespass actions, and that a trespass claim can be considered local interest exemption for the purposes of preempting the law.

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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