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NLRB Division of Judges Releases 2021 Bench Book

Office of Public Affairs

Washington, D.C - The Judges Division of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued an updated Bench Book, which replaces an earlier version issued in January 2020. The Bench Book serves as an NLRB trial manual and is designed to provide NLRB administrative law judges (ALJs) with a reference guide during hearings. It is also a useful tool for 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 hearings.

The new January 2021 edition includes citations to numerous Board and court decisions and orders issued over the past year. It also contains several new sections, including a section summarizing recent Board orders upholding the authority of ALJs to order remote hearings by videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other new sections address opening statements, evidentiary objections, subsequent remedial measures, the hearsay exceptions for present sense impressions and excited utterances, and authenticating audio and video recordings. Several sections have also been significantly expanded and revised, including those addressing the failure to produce subpoenaed documents and to preserve evidence through litigation holds (so-called spoliation), conferring with counsel, and evidence of animus and discrimination. 

Like previous editions, the new 2021 edition was edited by ALJ Jeffrey Wedekind. It also includes a foreword by Chief ALJ Robert Giannasi describing the Bench Book’s history and purpose.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees and employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.