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NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo Issues Memo on Seeking Full Relief Through Settlement Agreements

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Today, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all Field offices to seek settlement agreements that provide complete relief to charging parties and victims of unfair labor practices. This memo builds on another memo released last week, in which the General Counsel advised Regions to seek from the Board all available remedies to fully address violative conduct. The memo provides examples of remedies that should be sought during settlement agreements and encourages Regions to expound upon them in appropriate cases. 

“A settlement fully effectuates the mission of the National Labor Relations Act when the Agency can deliver timely, effective, and full relief to discriminatees and the public we serve,” said General Counsel Abruzzo. “Regions should skillfully craft settlement agreements that ensure the most full and effective relief is provided to those whose rights have been violated. And, if a settlement fails to materialize, Regions should seek all appropriate remedies from the Board.”

The memo reflects that monetary remedies consisting of backpay and lost benefits often fail to truly make whole victims of an unfair labor practice, and thus, Regions are to seek compensation for any and all damages, direct and consequential, attributable to the unfair labor practice at issue. It provides some examples related to compensating discharged employees, such as costs associated with: health insurance coverage; medical, legal or moving expenses; detrimental effects to credit ratings; liquidating a bank account to cover living expenses; and training or coursework required to obtain or renew a security clearance, certification, or license. 

She also advises Regions to seek no less than 100% of the backpay and benefits owed and all compensation for any consequential damages, as well as front pay if an employee voluntary waives reinstatement. And, in cases where an employer’s unfair labor practice caused the loss of an employee’s work authorization, Regions are advised to seek a settlement agreement requiring the employer to sponsor the work authorization of the affected employee and reimburse the employee for any associated fees and costs. 

Regions are also directed to return to the practice of incorporating default language in settlement agreements, which will ensure prompt relief to those harmed and a conservation of Agency resources. The memo also advises Regions to strongly consider the inclusion of admissions clauses for repeat violators.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees 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.