Labor Law "Reform" Bill Would Increase Litigation, Penalties for Violations

September 25, 2015

The NLRB's ambush election rules have enabled organized labor to set aside its efforts to enact card check legislation, so it is now turning to other so-called "reforms" that would expose employers to new litigation under the National Labor Relations Act.  Ranking Democrats on the House and Senate labor committees have introduced legislation (H.R. 3514/S. 2042) that would amend the Act to provide enhanced remedies for workers disciplined or terminated for union organizing or other activity protected by federal labor law.  The bills, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), are the first of a series of measures aimed at overhauling the NLRA, according to AFL-CIO officials. Most significantly, the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act will give workers a private right of action to sue employees in federal court.  Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said that the private right of action wouldn’t necessarily be an improvement: "I don't get the sense that federal courts are a model of efficiency.  Perhaps the solution is make the National Labor Relations Board more efficient, not throw more cases into the federal court."  The identical bills would allow for civil penalties of up to $50,000 as well as fines of $10,000 per day for employers that fail to comply with NLRB orders.