NLRB Wins $3.12 Million for Unlawfully Fired Workers in Settlement with MasTec and DIRECTV
As part of a settlement approved on June 1, 2022, by Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Ringler, MasTec Advanced Technologies (MasTec), has agreed to pay 26 former employees $3.12 million in backpay, interest, and expenses.
The dispute began in 2006 when 26 service technicians employed by MasTec, a contractor of DIRECTV, LLC f/k/a DIRECTV, Inc. (DIRECTV) that installs satellite TV receivers, were fired after reaching out to a local television station and participating in an interview with a local reporter, which was broadcast in the Orlando, Florida area. In the interview, the technicians voiced their frustration with the new pay structure implemented by their employer, which was based upon the technicians’ ability to convince customers to agree to a particular installation option. The technicians expressed concern with their supervisors telling them to tell customers whatever it took to convince them to agree and with losing money if they did not convince customers. One technician said they were just asking to be treated fairly.
Region 12-Tampa of the NLRB investigated and tried the case before an Administrative Law Judge. On July 21, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board determined that the employees’ participation in the TV interview constituted protected concerted activity. Consequently, it found that by causing the discharge of the technicians for their participation in the newscast, and by discharging them, DIRECTV and MasTec committed unfair labor practices.
In September 2016, the D.C. Circuit enforced the Board’s order, including the requirement that DIRECTV and MasTec make the unlawfully discharged employees whole. In October 2021, the D.C. Circuit held MasTec in contempt of court, and granted, among other things, costs, expenses, and substantial prospective fines for future violations. On November 30, 2021, Region 14-St. Louis of the NLRB issued a compliance specification setting forth the amounts owed by MasTec and DIRECTV and entered into negotiations that led to the settlement.
Region 12 Director David Cohen said, “Workers have the right to speak out publicly about their pay and working conditions, and the NLRB will continue to vigorously protect that right. This very meaningful settlement is the result of an excellent and persistent team effort by Agency personnel, and I greatly appreciate the hard work of all who were involved. This includes the investigation and litigation of the unfair labor practices before the Administrative Law Judge and the Board by Region 12 staff, the litigation efforts to obtain enforcement of the Board Decision and Order in the D.C. Circuit by the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Branch, and the investigation, litigation, and negotiation of backpay and other compliance matters led by Region 14 staff, with significant assistance from the staffs of Region 4 and the Contempt, Compliance and Special Litigation Branch of the Office of Legal Counsel.”
“I want to thank the many NLRB staff that helped win this significant settlement for the workers who were unjustly fired for exercising their right to engage in protected concerted activity,” said Region 14 Director Andrea J. Wilkes.
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.