Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. NLRB, No. 16-2721 (8th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
An arbitrator upheld Cooper Tire's discharge of an employee for his conduct on the picket line. The ALJ reversed, holding that Cooper's firing violated the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq., and the Board affirmed. The Eighth Circuit denied Cooper's petition for review and enforced the Board's order, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's conclusion that the employee's statements were not violent in character and did not contain any over or implied threats to replacement workers or their property. Furthermore, the statements were also unaccompanied by any threatening behavior or physical acts of intimidation. The court also held that reinstating the employee would not conflict with its obligations under Title VII where the employee's comments did not create a hostile work environment; because the employee was discharged for a prohibited reason, Cooper did not fire him for cause under section 10(c); and the Board did not abuse its discretion by not deferring to the arbitrator's award.
Court Description: Benton, Author, with Beam and Murphy, Circuit Judges] Petition for Review - National Labor Relations Board. Discharged worker's comments directed at a van carrying replacement workers were a "package of verbal barbs thrown out during a picket line exchange," and the Board's order directing the employer to reinstate the employee is affirmed; the statements, concerning fried chicken and watermelon, while racially derogatory, were not accompanied by any threatening behavior or physical acts of intimidation directed towards the replacement workers; reinstating the worker would not conflict with the employer's Title VII obligations as the comments did not create a hostile work environment; since the employee was discharged for a prohibited reason - the protected activity of engaging in picketing, the employer did not fire him for just cause under Section 10(c) of the Act. Judge Beam, dissenting.