A Recipe for a Hostile Work Environment, Courtesy of the NLRB

The NLRB has forced the Fund for the Public Interest to reinstate one of its terminated union employees after the employee went to a local newspaper and said that he did not believe in what the company was doing, calling it a “Ponzi scheme.” This is the third example of how the NLRB caters to unions.

David Neel is the union employee who was fired from the Fund for the Public Interest and, from reading the background of the case, it’s obvious that the relationship between Neel and his boss was a testy one to say the least. Employees at the call center would be required to seek pledges from people in the attempt to make weekly quotas and Neel would lead employee protests in the form of walkouts whenever a fellow employee was fired for not meeting their quotas.

Having had call center jobs before, I can understand why Neel led those walkouts: having your paycheck determined by the decisions of other people is a tough reality when you’re on the phone all day long; but to be fired for being unable to convince enough people to donate to your organization is quite unfortunate.

After a couple violations and after Neel’s bosses heard him break numerous protocols on one of his calls, the company decided to fire Neel.

Neel was later interviewed by the Portland Mercury about his termination and called his former company a Ponzi scheme, saying that he did not believe in what they do anymore.

Now, for whatever reason, he wants to be reinstated into the company and the NLRB has ruled that the Fund for the Public Interest cannot deny him reinstatement because they could not prove “misconduct so flagrant as to render [Neel] unfit for further service, or a threat to efficiency in the plant.”

Apparently, breaking multiple employee protocols on the phone, Neel’s concealment of his criminal record prior to employment with the company, and his disparaging remarks about the company in a local newspaper do not constitute misconduct flagrant enough to bar his reinstatement.

So then the obvious question is, what could an employee possibly do to ensure that he or she is barred from reinstatement? The NLRB’s peculiar legal reasoning answers the question:

“Under this standard, the Board has characterized the denial of reinstatement as warranted only in extraordinary situation[s]… Such extraordinary situations have been found to exist where the discriminatee threatened to kill someone…intentionally struck a supervisor with an automobile…and threatened to report a probation violation in order to influence a witness’s testimony during a Board Hearing…”

Aside from eliciting an appropriate facepalm, this reasoning should make the reader skeptical of the NLRB’s impartiality — especially toward any union employees who are involved in disputes with their employers.