The Judges Division of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued an updated Bench Book, which replaces an earlier version issued in January 2018. The new January 2019 edition contains citations to numerous additional board and court decisions and other authorities. It also contains several new sections, including sections addressing compliance/backpay proceedings and consolidated unfair labor practice (ULP) and representation cases. In addition, certain sections have been substantially reorganized, including those addressing privileged or protected material.
Like the 2018 edition, the new 2019 edition was edited by NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Jeffrey Wedekind and contains a Foreword by Chief ALJ Robert Giannasi describing the Bench Book’s history and purpose. As discussed in the Foreword, the basic sources that govern board ULP hearings are the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Board’s Rules and Regulations and Statements of Procedure, and Board decisions.
The board also applies, insofar as practicable, the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), and frequently seeks guidance from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The Bench Book serves as an NLRB Trial Manual, and is designed to provide NLRB judges with a reference guide during hearings. It is also a useful tool for trial practitioners before the Board because it sets forth Board precedent and other rulings and authorities on certain recurring procedural and evidentiary issues that may arise during a hearing.
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.