2021 US Code
Title 29 - Labor
Chapter 7 - Labor-Management Relations
Subchapter II - National Labor Relations
Sec. 161 - Investigatory powers of Board

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Citation 29 U.S.C. § 161 (2021)
Section Name §161. Investigatory powers of Board
Section Text

For the purpose of all hearings and investigations, which, in the opinion of the Board, are necessary and proper for the exercise of the powers vested in it by sections 159 and 160 of this title—

(1) Documentary evidence; summoning witnesses and taking testimony

The Board, or its duly authorized agents or agencies, shall at all reasonable times have access to, for the purpose of examination, and the right to copy any evidence of any person being investigated or proceeded against that relates to any matter under investigation or in question. The Board, or any member thereof, shall upon application of any party to such proceedings, forthwith issue to such party subpenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of any evidence in such proceedings or investigation requested in such application. Within five days after the service of a subpena on any person requiring the production of any evidence in his possession or under his control, such person may petition the Board to revoke, and the Board shall revoke, such subpena if in its opinion the evidence whose production is required does not relate to any matter under investigation, or any matter in question in such proceedings, or if in its opinion such subpena does not describe with sufficient particularity the evidence whose production is required. Any member of the Board, or any agent or agency designated by the Board for such purposes, may administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence. Such attendance of witnesses and the production of such evidence may be required from any place in the United States or any Territory or possession thereof, at any designated place of hearing.

(2) Court aid in compelling production of evidence and attendance of witnesses

In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpena issued to any person, any district court of the United States or the United States courts of any Territory or possession, within the jurisdiction of which the inquiry is carried on or within the jurisdiction of which said person guilty of contumacy or refusal to obey is found or resides or transacts business, upon application by the Board shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order requiring such person to appear before the Board, its member, agent, or agency, there to produce evidence if so ordered, or there to give testimony touching the matter under investigation or in question; and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by said court as a contempt thereof.

(3) Repealed. Pub. L. 91–452, title II, §234, Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 930 (4) Process, service and return; fees of witnesses

Complaints, orders, and other process and papers of the Board, its member, agent, or agency, may be served either personally or by registered or certified mail or by telegraph or by leaving a copy thereof at the principal office or place of business of the person required to be served. The verified return by the individual so serving the same setting forth the manner of such service shall be proof of the same, and the return post office receipt or telegraph receipt therefor when registered or certified and mailed or when telegraphed as aforesaid shall be proof of service of the same. Witnesses summoned before the Board, its member, agent, or agency, shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the United States, and witnesses whose depositions are taken and the persons taking the same shall severally be entitled to the same fees as are paid for like services in the courts of the United States.

(5) Process, where served

All process of any court to which application may be made under this subchapter may be served in the judicial district wherein the defendant or other person required to be served resides or may be found.

(6) Information and assistance from departments

The several departments and agencies of the Government, when directed by the President, shall furnish the Board, upon its request, all records, papers, and information in their possession relating to any matter before the Board.

Source Credit

(July 5, 1935, ch. 372, §11, 49 Stat. 455; June 23, 1947, ch. 120, title I, §101, 61 Stat. 150; June 25, 1948, ch. 646, §32(b), 62 Stat. 991; May 24, 1949, ch. 139, §127, 63 Stat. 107; Pub. L. 91–452, title II, §234, Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 930; Pub. L. 86–507, §1(57), June 11, 1960, as added Pub. L. 96–245, May 21, 1980, 94 Stat. 347.)


The original text of par. (2) contained a reference to the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia. Act June 25, 1948, as amended by act May 24, 1949, substituted "United States District Court for the District of Columbia" for "District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia". However, the words "United States District Court for the District of Columbia" have now been deleted entirely as superfluous in view of section 132(a) of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, which states that "There shall be in each judicial district a district court which shall be a court of record known as the United States District Court for the district", and section 88 of Title 28 which states that "the District of Columbia constitutes one judicial district".


1980—Par. (4). Pub. L. 96–245 inserted provisions authorizing service by certified mail.

1970—Par. (3). Pub. L. 91–452 struck out par. (3) which related to the immunity from prosecution of any individual compelled to testify or produce evidence after claiming his privilege against self-incrimination.

1947—Act June 23, 1947, restated section with addition of provisions requiring the issuance of subpenas as a matter of course on the request of any party.


Amendment by Pub. L. 91–452 effective on sixtieth day following Oct. 15, 1970, and not to affect any immunity to which any individual is entitled under this section by reason of any testimony given before sixtieth day following Oct. 15, 1970, see section 260 of Pub. L. 91–452, set out as an Effective Date; Savings Provisions note under section 6001 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure.


For effective date of amendment by act June 23, 1947, see section 104 of act June 23, 1947, set out as a note under section 151 of this title.

Publication Title United States Code, 2018 Edition, Supplement 3, Title 29 - LABOR
Category Bills and Statutes
Collection United States Code
SuDoc Class Number Y 1.2/5:
Contained Within Title 29 - LABOR
Sec. 161 - Investigatory powers of Board
Contains section 161
Date 2021
Laws In Effect As Of Date January 3, 2022
Positive Law No
Disposition standard
Statutes at Large References 49 Stat. 455
61 Stat. 150
62 Stat. 991
63 Stat. 107
84 Stat. 930
94 Stat. 347
Public Law References Public Law 86-507, Public Law 91-452, Public Law 96-245
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