EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; DEFENSES – Business Necessity
Single Topic for Decision 2285S
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409.01000 – Business Necessity
* * * OVERRULED IN PART by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H, where the Board clarified that PERB does not adhere to a “general rule” that investigations into employee misconduct serve a legitimate business purpose. Rather, PERB examines on a case-by-case basis the extent to which the employer has demonstrated a legitimate purpose that outweighs any tendency the investigation may have to coerce employees or labor organizations in the exercise of protected rights. * * *
Issuance of cease and desist order against union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance was not justified by legitimate business reason related to maintaining integrity of employer’s investigation, where there is no evidence steward’s conduct interfered with, delayed, distorted or unduly influenced employer’s investigation. Legitimacy of employer’s justification for interfering with employee organizational rights is undermined by: inaccurate way in which information was reported up the chain of command and acted upon without verification; employer’s reliance on a policy manual section that does not appear to support action taken; employer’s proffering of a false equivalency between cease and desist orders given to job steward and supervisor under investigation; and inconsistent understanding among witnesses regarding scope and effect of order. In balancing the competing interests of the parties, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.