Things are getting political around the National Labor Relations Board. In this first of two NLRB updates via POLITICO, congressional Democrats are upset with NLRB member William Emanuel.
Six congressional Democrats on Tuesday accused NLRB member William Emanuel of violating ethics rules by not recusing himself in a case involving a client of his former law firm.
Their complaint centers on a December 2017 “joint employer” ruling in which the NLRB made it harder to hold companies liable for labor violations committed by their franchisees and contractors, reversing a 2015 decision, Browning-Ferris, that made it easier to hold companies liable. After the ruling, the NLRB on Dec. 15 directed its general counsel to ask the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which was considering an appeal of Browning-Ferris, to remand the case back to the board for reconsideration. Four days later, according to ProPublica, the board voted to undo the vote — though the general counsel ignored the second vote and asked the court to remand the case anyway.
The problem, Democrats say, is that Emanuel’s former law firm, Littler Mendelson, represented one of the parties in Browning-Ferris at the same time Emanuel was a shareholder. In a letter, the six Democrats — Sens. Patty Murray, Elizabeth Warren and Maggie Hassan, and Reps. Bobby Scott, Kilili Sablan and Donald Norcross— told Emanuel his was “likely in violation of both federal regulations and the administration’s ethics pledge.”
An executive order signed by Trump eight days after he took office prevents appointees from participating “in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts” for two years.
The NLRB inspector general’s office opened an investigation into the matter last week.
Democrats say Emanuel contradicted himself, telling members last month that he was unaware that Littler Mendelson represented a party in Browning-Ferris, even though he said during his confirmation process that he was aware of the conflict. Emanuel has said he plans to revise his answer, ProPublica reported. Emanuel also said that Littler Mendelson was not involved in the appeal to the D.C. Circuit.