Decision 2595E – William S. Hart Union High School District
Decision Date: November 9, 2018
Decision Type: PERB Decision
Description: The ALJ found that an employer interfered with employee and union rights by asking a union steward about complaints she had received from bargaining unit members about another unit member. The employer filed exceptions.
Disposition: The Board affirmed the proposed decision.
Perc Vol: 43
Perc Index: 74
103.01000 – In General
EERA’s proscription against interference with employee rights is not void for vagueness under due process principles. The statute has been given a reasonable and practical construction over more than four decades of agency adjudication, which is all that is required to avoid being found unconstitutionally vague.
400.01000 – In General; Standards
A prima facie case of interference is established by allegations that an employer’s conduct tends to or does result in some harm to employee rights under our statutes. If the harm to protected rights is slight and the employer offers justification based on operational necessity, the competing interests are balanced. If the harm to employee rights outweighs the asserted business justification, a violation will be found. Where the employer’s conduct is inherently destructive of protected rights, it will be excused only on proof that it was caused by circumstances beyond the employer’s control and that no alternative course of action was available.
402.01000 – In General
Questioning a union steward about whether employees had complained to her about another employee interfered with employee’s right to serve as a union steward and employee rights to confer with their union steward. An employer’s legitimate investigation into alleged wrongdoing cannot include quizzing the shop steward about the substance of communications between employees and their union representatives, thereby deputizing the union as the employer’s agent for conducting disciplinary investigations.
402.01000 – In General
When an employer’s questions veer into matters protected by EERA, it is the employer’s obligation to assure the employee that his or her response is voluntary.
409.01000 – Business Necessity
Business justification for questioning a union steward about employees’ complaints about another employee did not outweigh harm to employee rights. Possibility that steward was ignoring those complaints because of personal relationship with the employee would be only weak evidence that the steward and employee were engaged in misconduct, but struck at the heart of matters in which the employer had no legitimate interest: the adequacy of the steward’s representation of bargaining unit members.
1200.01000 – In General
Order to cease and desist interfering with employee rights and union’s rights to represent employees is not vague or overbroad, because it is read in conjunction with the specific finding concerning the employer’s violation.