The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws


Miscellaneous Employment Laws

Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (amends the National Labor Relations Act of 1935)

29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. § 103.1; EO 13496

Protects the rights of employees to unionize, etc. Applies to private postsecondary institutions with gross annual revenues of a least $1 million dollars.

The National Labor Relations Board is the Federal Agency charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. 

Updates on Columbia University Case-Jan. 2018 Columbia is appealing to U.S. Court of Appeals.

Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, UAW,Case 02-RC-143012, August 23, 2016 NLRB

In this case the NLRB decided students who perform services at a University in connection with their studies are statutory employees within the meaning of 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act. In so holding the Board overruled the earlier decision by the Board in Brown University, 342 NLRB 483 (2004), where the Board found that graduate student assistants were not employees.

The holding states:

The Board has the statutory authority to treat student assistants as statutory employees, where they perform work, at the direction of the university, for which they are compensated. Statutory coverage is permitted by virtue of an employment relationship; it is not foreclosed by the existence of some other, additional relationship that the Act does not reach.***

Thus, we hold today that student assistants who have a common-law employment relationship with their university are statutory employees under the Act. We will apply that standard to student assistants, including assistants engaged in research funded by external grants. Applying the new standard to the facts here, consistent with the Board’s established approach in representation cases, we conclude (1) that all of the petitioned-for student assistant classifications consist of statutory employees; (2) that the petitioned-for bargaining unit (comprising graduate students, terminal Master’s degree students, and undergraduate students) is an appropriate unit; and (3) that none of the petitioned-for classifications consists of temporary employees who may not be included in the unit. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Regional Director and remand the proceedings to the Regional Director for further appropriate action.

The Board discarded the finding in Brown, supra, that in order to find an employment relationship, the relationship must be primarily economic in character, arguing that the intent of the NLRA was to maximize collective bargaining opportunities for other than the narrow categories specifically excluded (e.g., agricultural workers and those involved in family enterprises). The Board held it would define mandatory subjects of collective bargaining for student assistants on a case by case basis. The dissent argued much of what had been the prior majority opinion, including the impracticality of strikes (you shut off the access to the education you are there to receive) and that NLRB involvement is not warranted simply because "students may occupy a variety of academic positions in conjunction with their education." 

Northwestern University and College Athletic Players Association (CAPA), Petitioner, Case 13-RC-121359 (August 17, 2015) (Decision by NLRB, upon review and order)

In March 2014, a Regional Director held the grant in aid scholarship football players at Northwestern were employees within Section 2(3) of the NLRA. Northwestern appealed, and the NLRB reversed, holding that the Board would decline jurisdiction as involvement in this case would not improve stability in labor relations. The NLRB noted Northwestern is a private school, while the rest of the Big Ten are public, and emphasized this was a unique case.

Final Rule Notification of Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act, 76 Fed. Reg. 54006, August 30, 2011. This rule became effective on January 31, 2012.

The most significant change in the final rule is the deletion of the requirement that employers distribute the notice via email, voice mail, text messaging or related electronic communications if they customarily communicate with their employees in that manner. Federal contractors are covered by this requirement, which is a requirement to post the notice of employee rights physically as well as on the web site of the employer if the employer customarily communicates with employees in that manner. Copies of the required notice will be on the NLRB website by Nov. 1st. Federal contractors are already required by the DOL to post a similar notice. The DOL notice will suffice for purposes of this notice requirement. See the OGC Government Contracts page for a summary and link to the required posting. 



 NLRB General Counsel Guidance on Handbook Rules Post-Boeing-Memorandum GC-18-04 June 6, 2018 See the Ballard Spahr June 12, 2018 article titled NLRB Guides Employers on Handbook Rules Post-Boeing. See The  Boeing Company, 365 NLRB 154 (Dec. 14, 2017)which established a new test: 

When evaluating a facially neutral policy, rule or handbook provision that, when reasonably interpreted, would potentially interfere with the exercise of NLRA rights, the Board will evaluate two things: (i) the nature and extent of the potential impact on NLRA rights, and (ii) legitimate justifications associated with the rule.

Boeing divided rules into three categories: (1) those that are generally lawful to maintain; (2) those warranting individualized scrutiny; and (3) those that are unlawful to maintain. 

NACUANOTES: Volume 12, No. 4--How and Why Colleges and Universities Must Prepare Now for the NLRB'S Proposed "Quickie" Elections Rule May 1, 2014

NACUANOTES Vol. 11, No. 14 - The NLRB’s Recent Focus on Non-Union Employers and its Impact on Common Employment Policies at Colleges and Universities

NLRB Representation Case Procedures Fact Sheet 


updated 7-31-18