January 26, 2022

Volume XII, Number 26

Advertisement
Advertisement

January 26, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 25, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 24, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis
Advertisement

Fast Times at the NLRB: The Labor Board Targets Spicoli

As the iconic movie character Jeff Spicoli would say, “no way!” In an interesting development, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against a nonprofit organization led by Sean Penn – the famous actor who played Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” – based on some comments he made to his workers.

According to a report from the New York Times, the issue started when workers at the nonprofit posted anonymous comments criticizing the long days (18 hours) and food options made available to them (doughnuts and sub sandwiches) by the organization. In response to those comments, Penn sent a letter to the workers that thanked them for their service but also remarked: “Any of us who might find themselves predisposed to a culture of complaint, have a much simpler avenue than broad-based cyber whining. It’s called quitting.” In other words, he effectively told any employee who had problems with his organization that they should leave.

The Los Angeles Times published Penn’s letter and reported on the incident. A labor lawyer saw Penn’s comments and took it upon himself to file charges with the NLRB alleging the remarks violated labor law. Apparently, the NLRB agreed, as it has issued a complaint against Penn and his organization for making “implied” threats against his employees with reprisals or discharge. The matter is set for trial in 2022 and Penn’s team has indicated it will not settle the case.

Were Penn’s comments unlawful? That’s for the labor board to decide. The agency historically has taken a hard line against policies or actions by companies that could “chill” employees from speaking out about working conditions. The NLRB has held that employees are privileged to protest or criticize things like long work hours. The fact the Board now has a pro-labor majority may present even more of a challenge for Penn’s legal team. We’ll see if Spicoli can get himself out of this one. Stay tuned.

© 2022 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 316
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

David J. Pryzbylski, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Indianapolis, Labor Law Attorney
Partner

David concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters. His deep experience includes collective bargaining, work stoppages, arbitrations, union avoidance training and strategies, union representation elections, unfair labor practice charges, contract administration, and various other labor relations issues.

David has helped companies secure favorable outcomes with labor issues around the country. He has experience with numerous labor unions, including the Steelworkers, Teamsters, Laborers, Sheet...

317-231-6464
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement