Decision 2361M – County of Merced

SA-CE-640-M; SA-CE-690-M

Decision Date: March 25, 2014

Decision Type: PERB Decision

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Perc Vol: 38
Perc Index: 140

Decision Headnotes

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

Reporting safety concerns to an exclusive representative is protected activity.

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

Since unlawful motivation is not an element of an interference claim, the employer’s knowledge of whether or not it was interfering with employees’ rights under the MMBA is of no relevance. Whether or not commanders knew, or should have known, that they were interfering with rights protected under the MMBA is of no consequence to our analysis. Even the County’s version of what employee told commanders, together with the plain language of union attorney’s letter, were sufficient for the ALJ to determine that a reasonable person would conclude that the jail yard fight incident was the subject of an internal union discussion and the department’s repeated inquiry interfered with employee rights. Employer conduct which tends to chill reporting of concerns to union representatives interferes with employee and union rights.

402.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; QUESTIONING/INTERROGATING EMPLOYEES
402.01000 – In General

The harm to employee’s and union’s rights lies in the potential chilling effect the employer’s interrogation of employee regarding identity of employee informant has on employees’ discussions with their union representative about matters protected under the MMBA. The County interfered with employee’s exercise of rights protected under the MMBA when its agents ordered employee to reveal the name of the bargaining unit member who informed the union of his safety concerns arising from the jail yard fight.