“Some” Authority to Recommend Raises Not Enough for NLRA Supervisor Status

A South Carolina company had a tiered management system. At the bottom, employee groups were guided by team leads who reported to supervisors who oversaw between 20 and 40 employees. The supervisors reported to managers who in turn reported to the company’s vice president of operations. The issue was whether the supervisors could vote in the upcoming union representation election.

The supervisors recommended to managers certain employees for performance based raises, and even opposed specific pay bumps in some circumstances. The managers then gave their own input to the company’s vice president of operations, who made the final call. Since the managers had discretion to endorse or not endorse the supervisor’s recommendations, and since the vice president of operations had autonomy to do the same, these supervisors were not supervisory employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

This ruling provides some insight into just how much evidence an employer must present to exclude employees from proposed bargaining units. Although managers testified at hearing that the vice president usually follows the supervisors’ recommendations, that was not enough to determine just how much say the supervisors ultimately had in the vice president’s decisions.

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.