Trinity Services Group, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 20-1014 (D.C. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Trinity employee Victoria’s timecard indicated that she had earned three days of paid leave. The company’s records indicated otherwise. Victoria and her unionized coworkers had a unique paid-leave plan, different from the plan at Trinity’s other, nonunionized facilities. In response to the discrepancy, Victoria’s boss, Rivera, stated, “[T]hat is a problem that the Union created” and “You need to fix that with the Union.” A split panel of the National Labor Relations Board found that these remarks “had a reasonable tendency to interfere with” employees’ labor rights, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), because there was “no objective basis for blaming the Union” and the remarks came amidst “ongoing contract negotiations and grievance proceedings” regarding paid leave.
The D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Trinity, declining to enforce the Board’s order. The National Labor Relations Act protects an employer’s right to “express . . . any views, argument, or opinion,” 29 U.S.C. 158(c). Unless the employer threatens “reprisal or force” or promises “benefit[s],” such expressions “cannot be used as evidence of an unfair labor practice.” Rivera’s remarks were “opinion[s]” containing no threats or promises and evoking no future consequences. The court declined to recognize an exception for misstatements involving no threat or promise. Section 8(c) does not require fairness or accuracy and says nothing about materiality or knowledge.