national labor relations board seal

What’s Sauce for the Goose Is Sauce for the Gander, Even at the National Labor Relations Board

Raymond J. LaJeunesse August 02, 2017

An article in the July 31, 2017, Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report notes that William Emanuel, a lawyer with Littler Mendelson PC and one of President Donald Trump’s two current nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, “signed an ethics agreement pledging to recuse himself for a two-year period from board cases involving any of his former clients as well as parties represented by Littler Mendelson.” The article further reports that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has suggested that Emanuel should “also sit out any case involving the hotly contested question of whether employers can force their workers to sign class action waivers,” because he “has represented parties on the class action waiver issue in a case before the board, . . . his firm is counsel in a number of others[, and h]e has also co-written briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases arguing that the agreements aren't unlawful restraints on employees’ right to engage in collective activity.” (Emphasis added.)

However, unless the standards for recusal are more stringent for nominees of President Trump than they were for nominees of President Barack Obama, Emanuel can ethically ignore Senator Warren’s suggestion and need not recuse himself in all class-action waiver cases, even though that is a “hotly contested” issue.

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