This week, the United States Senate approved President Donald Trump’s nomination of Peter B. Robb to be the next General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The move is a key step toward releveling the playing field between Big Labor and Corporate America in the aftermath of profound pro-union actions by the prior administration, including its NLRB General Counsel.
The job of General Counsel is a significant one at the Board. The General Counsel is responsible for investigating and prosecuting unfair labor practice cases and supervising the regional offices in their processing of cases. As a result, the General Counsel has control over the types of cases and legal theories that make their way to the NLRB for decisions.
The prior General Counsel, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., interpreted the National Labor Relations Act in ways that subjected employers to labor law liabilities where none historically existed. This included arguing that individuals better classified as college students and independent contractors were statutory employees, neutral workplace policies were unlawful, and distinct entities in a business relationships were joint employers. Griffin’s term expired last month and Jennifer A. Abruzzo, the NLRB’s Deputy General Counsel, has been serving as the Acting General Counsel since that time.
As a private practitioner, Robb has been critical of numerous actions by the prior administration, including its new election rule and attack on innocuous workplace policies. Robb also noted his disagreement with a memorandum Griffin issued that characterized college scholarship football players as statutory employees during a recent Senate hearing.