Daily Labor Report® is the objective resource the nation’s foremost labor and employment professionals read and rely on, providing reliable, analytical coverage of top labor and employment...
May 19 — The National Labor Relations Board was not justified in pursuing a preliminary injunction against a nursing home and must pay the employer's attorneys' fees, a federal district court in Alabama has ruled.
The decision is a reminder that smaller organizations that prevail in litigation against the NLRB may have a right under federal law to seek reimbursement for their legal expenses.
Acting under the Equal Access to Justice Act, Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama May 18 awarded Ridgewood Health Care Center Inc. and Ridgewood Health Care Services Inc. $46,015.60 in attorneys' fees.
The companies incurred the fees in resisting the NLRB's petition for injunctive relief under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act.
Blackburn denied the injunction request last December. In her latest order, she said a fee award was appropriate. “No reasonable person, with knowledge of the facts and the law of this Circuit, would find the Director's position was substantially justified,” the court wrote.
Ridgewood Health Care Center owned the Jasper, Ala., nursing facility but was leasing it to an independent company (Preferred) until 2013, when RHCC announced it would operate the nursing home through a related company, Ridgewood Health Care Services.
Preferred had a contract with the United Steelworkers, but Ridgewood didn't hire all of the Preferred employees and it refused to recognize the union.
The USW filed unfair labor practice charges, and the NLRB commenced administrative proceedings and filed a Section 10(j) petition for an injunction to prevent unfair labor practices pending final board action.
The NLRB argued there were serious unfair labor practices, including interrogations, unlawful statements, discrimination, the company's refusal to bargain with the Steelworkers and unilateral changes in employment conditions. However, Blackburn found the acts were not egregious enough to warrant Section 10(j) relief and she denied the petition in its entirety on Dec. 22, 2015.
Ridgewood filed a motion for attorneys' fees under EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1), and the court said a fee award was due.
It said precedent in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit shows that a Section 10(j) injunction is an extraordinary remedy that should be issued in “very limited circumstances.”
However, Blackburn wrote, the NLRB failed to make a persuasive case based on specific evidence, and offered a “generalized argument that a § 10(j) injunction was ‘just and proper' because (1) this was a successorship case and (2) other courts had granted temporary injunctions in successorship cases.”
Stating “the mere occurrence of unfair labor practices” did not prove the need for an injunction, Blackburn said the NLRB's position in the Section 10(j) litigation was not substantially justified.
The court approved a fee award of $46,015.60 and gave the NLRB until June 7 to answer Ridgewood's request for an additional $11,054.80 in fees incurred on the EAJA motion.
Ronald W. Flowers and Matthew Scully of Burr & Forman LLP in Birmingham, Ala., represented Ridgewood Health Care Center. NLRB attorneys Lisa Y. Henderson and Jeffrey D. Williams in Atlanta represented the board.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lawrence E. Dubé in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at email@example.com
Text of the opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Harrell_v_Ridgewood_Health_Care_Ctr_Inc_No_614CV2075SLB_2016_BL_1.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)