In a lengthy opinion authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, and drawing heavily on historical practice of Presidents and the Senate, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Noel Canning v. NLRB, concluding that President Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 (Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn) were invalid. The Court upheld the right of the President to make recess appointments both inter- and intra-session, but held that it is the Senate that decides when it is in session by retaining the power to conduct business pursuant to its own rules. The Court also found that a recess of three days or less is too short to allow for a valid recess appointment and that a recess of from four to less than ten days “is presumptively too short” to permit the President to make a recess appointment, except in “unusual circumstances,” such as a “national catastrophe”. (The recess here was three days.) The Court also decided that the recess appointment power applies to appointments that first come into existence during a recess and to those that initially occur before a recess but continue to exist during a recess.

As a result of the decision, hundreds of Board decisions likely are now invalid.   In addition, the actions of NLRB Regional Directors who were appointed during the time a valid Board quorum did not exist also are subject to challenge.

We will review the Supreme Court’s decision and provide additional commentary shortly.

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Photo of Howard M. Bloom Howard M. Bloom

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Mr. Bloom speaks frequently to employer groups on a wide range of labor and employment law topics. He also has written extensively on labor and employment law for a variety of publications, including New England Business magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. He also is editor of and a frequent contributor to the Jackson Lewis Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog.

While attending law school, he was the Executive Editor of The Advocate: the Suffolk University Law School Journal and President of the Student Bar Association.

Mr. Bloom is a diehard baseball fan. His first book, The Baseball Uncyclopedia: A Highly Opinionated Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, was published in February 2006.

Photo of Philip B. Rosen Philip B. Rosen

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.