A federal judge on Friday ordered the nation’s top labor arbiter to pay a company’s legal fees after the agency engaged in “administrative hubris” and “bad faith litigation.”
Washington, D.C., Appeals Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown said that the National Labor Relations Board wrongfully ruled that Heartland Health Care Center violated its collective bargaining agreement by reducing employee hours. Judge Brown ruled that the agency, which oversees labor disputes and union elections, took actions beyond the scope of federal law. She ordered the agency to pay the company nearly $18,000 in legal fees, which were incurred by “bad faith litigation” on the agency’s part.
“The Board’s conduct before our Court makes out a clear case of bad faith litigation. …The Board’s obstinacy forced Heartland to waste time and resources fighting for a freedom the Board knew our precedent would provide,” the ruling said. “It is clear enough that the Board’s conduct was intended to send a chilling message to Heartland, as well as others caught in the Board’s crosshairs”
Brown, who was appointed to the Court of Appeals by George W. Bush after a lengthy filibuster from Senate Democrats, said that judges have allowed executive agencies to expand beyond the scope of congressional intent. She called on her fellow judges to rein in executive overreach in labor matters and other regulatory affairs.
“Let the word go forth: for however much the judiciary has emboldened the administrative state, we ‘say what the law is,’” she wrote. “Administrative hubris does not get the last word under our Constitution. And citizens can count on it.”