WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, led a letter with Chairwoman Maloney, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and four Equality Caucus Co-Chairs to John F. Ring, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), regarding NLRB’s unsatisfactory response to their investigation about the removal of nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ employees.
“There does not seem to be any credible explanation for the NLRB’s reversal in position other than the apparent determination to use these fundamental employee rights as a bargaining chip. That cavalier approach trivializes essential protections,” the Members wrote. “We condemn this move and implore the NLRB to bargain in good faith without requiring employees to bargain over their right to work free from discrimination.”
The NLRB has confirmed that it seeks to remove sexual orientation and gender identify from the list of classes protected under the agency’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and it has conceded that it intends to strip employees of the right to challenge any act of equal employment opportunity (EEO) discrimination under the CBA’s negotiated grievance procedure.
The sole explanation the NLRB has provided for these alarming changes is that the agency wishes to “streamline” the CBA to avoid duplicating federal statutes.
During a staff briefing on June 2, 2020, the NLRB was unable to answer basic questions on whether the CBA contains an election of remedies clause preventing duplicative litigation; identify any duplicative litigation that would necessitate the proposed “streamlining;” identify any problem with the current grievance process to support the proposed changes; or identify any other non-EEO provision in the CBA that was stripped for “streamlining.”
NLRB staff committed to following up with responses to each of those queries, however, no such information has been furnished. Though the NLRB insists its proposed changes have no substantive effect on its employees, this is untrue. By eliminating EEO grievances, the agency is forcing its employees to challenge discriminatory employment actions through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Doing so removes an efficient, low-cost pathway to relief, as arbitration proceedings are often quicker and employees can avail themselves of assistance from the union to avoid expensive legal fees.
The Members added, “Forcing employees to the MSPB—where cases can languish for years, as the agency lacks a quorum—or the EEOC—where federal sector cases are delayed in a substantial backlog—may discourage employees from seeking vindication of their basic rights and effectively deny them any meaningful relief for discrimination.”
Click here to read today’s letter.