NLRB Changes Rules to Ease Ability of Faculty at Religious Universities to Organize

The National Labor Relations Board recently overturned nearly 40 years of legal precedent prohibiting faculty members at religious universities from forming or joining a union because doing so could violate the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In another example of dramatically expanding the scope of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, the Board granted itself jurisdiction over university faculty members unless the institution first provides appropriate evidence to show it offers a religious educational environment and then shows that it holds its faculty members out as performing a specific religious function. According to the Board, faculty members who are not expected to perform a specific role in creating or maintaining a school’s religious educational environment are no different from faculty at nonreligious colleges who are subject to the NLRB’s jurisdiction.

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