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NLRB Region 27-Denver Wins Injunction Requiring Big Green to Rehire 10 Unlawfully Laid Off Workers and Bargain with the Union

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On January 5, 2024, Chief United States District Judge Gordon P. Gallagher of the Eastern District of Colorado issued an injunction order requiring Colorado based non-profit organization, Big Green, recognize and bargain with the Denver Newspaper Guild – Communications Workers of America, Local 37074, AFL-CIO (the Union) and reinstate 10 unlawfully laid off employees in its offices in Denver, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis.

The District Court further ordered Big Green to rescind all retaliatory disciplines against employees for their Union activity, rescind all unlawfully applied and overbroad policies, expunge employees’ records, read, post, and electronically distribute the Court’s Order to employees, and cease and desist from unlawful activities. The Court’s Order provides this relief pending a final decision by the National Labor Relations Board (Board) on the underlying administrative complaint.

The injunction was issued based on a petition for temporary injunctive relief filed by former Region 27-Denver Regional Director Paula Sawyer under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in October 2022. Section 10(j) of the NLRA authorizes the Board to seek injunctions against employers and unions in federal district courts to stop unfair labor practices and ensure that employees’ rights will be adequately protected from remedial failure due to the passage of time.

The Region’s petition explained that Big Green unlawfully reorganized its operations and laid off all 10 of its program coordinators and program managers less than three months after they requested that Big Green recognize the Union as their collective bargaining representative, and only a few weeks after a representation hearing where Big Green claimed that all the employees in the proposed unit were exempt from the Act’s protection as either supervisors or managers. The petition also laid out several unlawful actions taken by Big Green, including threats of retaliation, interrogation, enforcement of overly broad or unlawful policies, and disciplines in retaliation for employees’ protected concerted activity for raising concerns about racism in Big Green’s operations through its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Counsel, and for employees’ Union activity. After the Region filed its petition with the district court, an administrative law judge issued a decision finding Big Green had engaged in unfair labor practices. The case has now been transferred to the Board.

“Workers have a right to take collective action free from employer retaliation. The work by Region 27 staff to obtain this injunction exemplifies their diligence and dedication to employee rights and justice,” said Region 27-Denver Regional Director Matthew S. Lomax. “I’m extremely proud of their efforts here, as this excellent, hard-fought result is a critical part of restoring the ability of the employees of Big Green to exercise their rights.”

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, 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. Region 27 serves areas in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska from its Regional Office in Denver.