Decision 2285S – State of California (Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) * * * OVERRULED IN PART by by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H

SA-CE-1694-S

Decision Date: September 17, 2012

Decision Type: PERB Decision

* * *OVERRULED IN PART by by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H* * *

Description: The complaint and underlying charge alleged that the State of California (Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation) interfered with employee rights when it threatened and ordered a job steward to cease and desist a union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance.

Disposition: The Board reversed the ALJ, finding that the State interfered with employee rights by its conduct and ordered the State to cease and desist from interfering with protected employee rights.

View Full Text (PDF)

Perc Vol: 37
Perc Index: 72

Decision Headnotes

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.01000 – In General

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

An employee organization’s ability to independently investigate a potential grievance is an essential tool for determining whether the grievance has merit and, if it does, for providing effective representation in grievance proceedings. Therefore, the investigation of grievances is protected organizational activity.

409.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; DEFENSES
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.

408.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHT TO SELF OR UNION REPRESENTATION; WEINGARTEN RIGHTS
408.03000 – Investigatory Interviews

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

408.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHT TO SELF OR UNION REPRESENTATION; WEINGARTEN RIGHTS
408.02000 – Grievances/Grievance Procedure

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

408.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHT TO SELF OR UNION REPRESENTATION; WEINGARTEN RIGHTS
408.01000 – In General

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

405.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; THREATS OR PROMISES
405.02000 – Express or Implied Threats

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

402.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; QUESTIONING/INTERROGATING EMPLOYEES
402.03000 – Union Activities or Membership

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

400.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE WITH, RESTRAINT, OR COERCION OF EMPLOYEES
400.01000 – In General; Standards

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

Both statement to union steward conducting union investigation into alleged misconduct by a supervisor for a potential grievance that she could find herself under investigation for impeding employer’s investigation and issuance of cease and desist order constituted at least “slight harm” to employee organizational rights. In balancing competing interests, interference with employee organizational rights outweighs business justification proffered by employer for its conduct.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.17000 – Other

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

An employee organization’s ability to independently investigate a potential grievance is an essential tool for determining whether the grievance has merit and, if it does, for providing effective representation in grievance proceedings. Therefore, the investigation of grievances is protected organizational activity.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.05000 – Grievances

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

An employee organization’s ability to independently investigate a potential grievance is an essential tool for determining whether the grievance has merit and, if it does, for providing effective representation in grievance proceedings. Therefore, the investigation of grievances is protected organizational activity.

1107.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES;PROCEDURES BEFORE THE BOARD
1107.02000 – Weight Given to ALJ’s Proposed Decision: Findings, Conclusions, Credibility Resolutions

* * * OVERRULED IN PART ON OTHER GROUNDS by Trustees of the California State University (Northridge) (2019) PERB Decision No. 2687-H. * * *

ALJ’s credibility determination based upon opinion that “gratuitous comments would not be volunteered by an experienced investigator” and that an experienced law enforcement officer would not make the statement attributed to her are more in the nature of speculative generalizations about the character of law enforcement than they are a product of firsthand observations by the ALJ of the witness’s testimony. Accordingly, the Board accords the ALJ’s credibility determination no particular deference.