There has long been a consensus among scholars and union-side practitioners that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is under-enforced. As a result, employers often treat violations of the NLRA as a cost of doing business rather than a serious violation of a federal statute. Calls for reform have historically tended to propose legislative amendments to the NLRA to constrain employer conduct and impose greater consequences for discrimination violations. However, little attention has been given to improving the flawed legal test by which such discrimination is analyzed, Wright Line, 251 N.L.R.B. 1083 (1980), enforced 662 F.2d 899 (1st Cir. 1981), cert. denied 455 U.S. 989 (1982). In this article, we propose a new causation test that better addresses how adjudicators should weigh the evidence that Congress and jurists have deemed relevant for evaluating discrimination claims. Our test lightens the initial burden to establish a showing of discrimination, formalizes the employer’s defense burden, and then provides a rebuttal burden for the discriminatee. This is no radical departure from historical precedent. Rather, we argue that the original Wright Line decision itself contained hints of our test, but that adjudicators and practitioners alike have whittled Wright Line to an oversimplified shell at best and an ambiguous, complex inquiry at worst. Our test better fulfills the NLRA’s objective of promoting collective bargaining in the private sector by encouraging a deeper inquiry in NLRA cases’ pre-litigation investigative stage.
Joshua D. Rosenberg Daneri & Paul A. Thomas,
Wrong Line: Proposing a New Test for Discrimination Under the National Labor Relations Act,
U. Mich. J. L. Reform
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol56/iss1/2