Protecting Employers Since 1985

NLRB Is Now Getting Serious With Its Anti-Business Agenda

Here’s the story of the NLRB’s pursuit of the two owners of a Muskego, WI spa. In 2021, the NLRB found that Haven Salon + Spa violated the NLRA when it discharged an employee for raising concerns about the adequacy of the company’s COVID-19 safety protocols during the height of the pandemic. In raising those concerns, the Board found that the employee had engaged in protected concerted activity within the meaning of the Act. The Board’s order required Haven Salon + Spa to offer the employee reinstatement, expunge references to the discharge from its files, provide records relevant to calculating backpay to the Board, post a notice of employee rights at its facility, and file a certificate of compliance with the Board’s Regional office. The Court enforced the Board’s order later that year.

After Haven Salon + Spa failed to fully comply with the Court-enforced order, the Board filed a motion to hold Haven Salon + Spa in contempt, which the Court granted in February 2023. The Court’s contempt order imposed escalating daily fines on Haven that could be forgiven in full if it complied with the Board’s order within a week’s time.

Haven Salon + Spa still did not comply. The Board then filed another motion with the Court in August 2023 to liquidate the fines, add the two company officials as additional respondents in contempt, and issue a writ of body attachment. The Board argued that the corporate officials were responsible for the company’s noncompliance with the Court’s orders. In its motion, the Board also pointed to evidence suggesting that the officials had deliberately evaded service of those orders on multiple occasions.

The Court granted the motion in full and ordered Haven Salon + Spa to pay the Board over $30,000 in fines and attorney’s fees. The U.S. Marshals Service for the Eastern District of Wisconsin took the officials into custody on September 12th for a same-day hearing at which they committed to a United States Magistrate Judge that they would promptly comply with the Court’s orders.

Note that there was nothing in this case that involved unions. The objective of the 1935 NLRA was to protect and support unions and union activity. Over the years, the Board has shifted course and moved toward the strained theory of protected concerted activity. In other words, no union is involved. We get lots of these types of cases in our four offices. One wonders how these single employee cases are a furtherance of national labor policy.

Questions? Contact attorney Richard Wessels in our St. Charles office at 630-377-1554 or by email.

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