Accountable.US Calls for Action As Pattern of Ignoring Conflicts of Interest Emerges at National Labor Relations Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, watchdog group Accountable.US called on the House Education and Labor Committee to investigate potential conflicts of interest and the decision-making process behind the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) new rule to roll back critical labor protections for subcontracted employees and employees hired by franchisees. The final NLRB will allow companies to skirt liability for labor violations by weakening joint employer liability. Trump-appointed NLRB member William Emanuel has repeatedly worked to weaken the provision despite deep conflicts of interest and history of flouting his ethics pledge.

“William Emanuel’s tenure at the NLRB is already tainted by ethical lapses around his clear conflicts of interest. Rather than allowing him to continue benefiting the clients of his former employer at the expense of the very workers he is charged with protecting, Congress should open an investigation into his conflicts and how they influenced the NLRB’s new rule,” said Kyle Herrig, President of Accountable.US.

Herrig’s full letter to the House Committee on Education and Labor can be read here. Key excerpts are included below:

This troubling development has been spearheaded, in part, by William Emanuel, an NLRB member appointed by President Trump in DATE who has repeatedly refused to recuse himself from decisions that may pose a conflict of interest. 

In fact, the NLRB inspector general issued a report stating that Emanuel should have recused himself from a seminal ruling killing an Obama-era regulation that involved a company represented by his most recent employer.

[…]

Because Emanuel is similarly conflicted on the new joint employer liability rule, we fear the same ethically challenged circumstances are playing out once again.

McDonald’s hired the law firms Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson to fight against an NLRB joint employer liability complaint where the company did not want to be held accountable for its franchisee’s labor violations.

Despite the fact that Emanuel previously worked for Littler Mendelson and faced calls that he recuse himself from the decision, he refused and instead helped McDonald’s secure a roughly $170,000 settlement.

Emanuel’s involvement in the NLRB’s employer liability rule is equally conflicted, and his refusal to step aside despite these conflicts of interest is deeply troubling given his history of flouting his ethics agreement.

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