October 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 292

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October 18, 2021

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NLRB Postpones All Elections Indefinitely and Seriously Limits Other Agency Operations: The Status of NLRB Operations in the Face of COVID-19

The impact of the novel coronavirus has slammed employers across the globe, and federal agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) are no exception.  The Board announced Thursday the unprecedented step that it was suspending all representation elections, including mail ballot elections, for at least two (2) weeks until at least April 3rd.

Just days earlier, the Agency implemented a nationwide telework policy in both its headquarters and regional offices, encouraging employees of the agency to work from home.  While implementing the election freeze, the Agency highlighted that operations would be limited and open regional offices will maintain “minimal staff.”   In a press release, the Agency stated “given the closure of several regional offices and limited operations and significant telework at others, the Board does not believe that it is possible to effectively conduct elections at this time.”

Likewise, due to the potential  exposure of several agency personnel  to the COVID-19 virus, the NLRB has announced temporary closures of various regional offices including those in Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Manhattan, New Orleans and San Francisco as the agency managed potential Board Agent exposure to COVID-19.  The Agency noted the closures are evolving and stated that it would continue to update the public on its website.

What This Means for Employers and Advocates

While the NLRB and its regional offices continue to function, processing newly filed petitions and unfair labor practice charges, the agency is functioning at a reduced level.  Representation elections that had been scheduled to take place between now and April 3rd have been postponed, as have representation petitions and most other proceedings.  NLRB personnel do continue to investigate ULP charges and attempt to secure agreements for elections in pending representation cases, asking parties to agree that any agreed elections will take place in the future on dates to be determined by the agency’s Regional Directors once operations return to something closer to normal. It is inevitable however that pending cases will be delayed and that backlogs in case processing and resolution will continue to grow.  While the agency will continue to handle incoming cases, and Board employees will continue to work remotely, there will most certainly be a lag in case processing and hearing procedure as the Board navigates remote case-processing and strained adjudication and case-processing capabilities.

©2021 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 80
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About this Author

RyAnn McKay Hooper Epstein Becker Green  Associate Labor Management Relations  Employment Litigation
Associate

RYANN McKAY HOOPER is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She focuses her practice on representing employers in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Specifically, Ms. Hooper:

  • Represents clients before the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) and other federal and state agencies, and in federal and state courts

  • Provides representation to employers in unfair labor practice (ULP) and union representation proceedings and appeals...

212-351-4676
Steven M. Swirsky labor employment lawyer health care and life sciences attorney
Member of the Firm

STEVEN M. SWIRSKY is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Health Care and Life Sciences practices, in the firm's New York office. He regularly represents employers in a wide range of industries, including retail, health care, manufacturing, banking and financial services, manufacturing, transportation and distribution, electronics and publishing. He frequently advises and represents United States subsidiaries and branches of Asian, European and other foreign-based companies.

Mr. Swirsky:

  • Advises employers on a full range of labor and...
212-351-4640
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