Employment: Respect Act

01.01.09

The Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act to change the statutory definition of “supervisor”. Currently, any employee who is considered a supervisor is not covered under the NLRA and is not allowed to join a union.

Currently, the definition of “supervisor” is defined as “any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.”

The bill, if passed, would significantly narrow the definition by removing the terms “assign” and “responsibility to direct” from the Act’s definition. In short, a supervisor’s duties would consist of hiring, firing, and disciplining employees. Managing day to day work assignments and job assignments of employees would no longer qualify a person as a supervisor. The legislation would also dictate that an employee cannot be classified as a “supervisor” unless the employee engages in managerial duties “for a majority of the individual’s work time.”

There are some practical effects on your business if this law passes. First, if EFCA passes, your supervisors could suddenly find themselves as members of a union – even if they do not want to be members. Second, the supervisors would have divided loyalties to the union, as their bargaining agent, and the employer from whom they usually take their direction. Finally, in the event of a labor strike, supervisors would not be available to assist management to keep the business operating as smoothly as possible. If this law passes, you should evaluate each current supervisor’s job description and job duties. Revisions to those duties may be necessary to ensure that your supervisors continue to be properly classified as such and exempt from the NLRA.

By Michael C. Redman, mredman@dsda.com

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Rebecca D. Bullard

Rebecca D. Bullard

Rebecca represents clients primarily in labor and employment
litigation and counsels clients regarding everyday employment matters. 

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