On Monday, July 17, 2023, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan held that Dolgen Corporation, LLC, d/b/a Dollar General (Dollar General) violated the National Labor Relations Act by firing a pro-union worker, illegally surveilling and interrogating employees, and threatening to close a store where a petition for union representation had recently been filed.
The dispute began in September 2021 when United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371 filed a petition to represent the employees at Dollar General’s Barkhamsted, Connecticut store. The next day, two representatives from corporate headquarters’ “Rapid Response Team” arrived at the store, followed days later by a third. The corporate officials maintained a daily presence at the store for the entire period leading up to a scheduled election, over four weeks later — an unprecedented amount of time. During that month, these corporate officials surveilled employees’ union activity, solicited grievances and granted benefits, kept a running assessment of who they believed was likely to vote in favor of the union, impliedly threatened that if the Union was voted in the store would be closed, and two weeks before the election, fired the worker they believed was the lead supporter of the union.
Region 1-Boston issued a complaint alleging the employer’s conduct violated the National Labor Relations Act based on interference with protected activity and by illegally firing a worker for engaging in protected activity. After reviewing testimony and evidence presented in a hearing, Judge Amchan agreed.
Judge Amchan wrote in his decision that the evidence, “established a corporate-wide determination to interfere, coerce, and restrain Dollar General employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights — of which its activities at Barkhamstead were only a part.”
“The unfair labor practices herein involve individuals at the highest levels of Dolgen management. They were also committed pursuant to a corporate policy as to how to deal with organizing efforts by Dollar General employees. They also constitute blatant hallmark unfair labor practices,” said Judge Amchan.
Judge Amchan ordered Dollar General to reinstate the fired worker, including compensating for all direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms and backpay, and distribute a nationwide electronic and physical notice posting of employees’ rights at all Dollar General facilities that were canvassed in connection with the representation petition at Barkhamsted. Further, due to Dollar General’s numerous and blatant unlawful actions, Judge Amchan also issued a broad cease and desist order requiring Dollar General to stop discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees for engaging in union or other protected concerted activity and from, in any manner, interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.
“Workers have the right to advocate collectively for a more equitable workplace — and it is unlawful for employers to prohibit or retaliate against them for doing so” said NLRB Region 1 Regional Director Laura Sacks. Director Sacks added, “I’m proud of the staff of Region 1 for diligently pursuing this significant case and litigating for strong, meaningful remedies.”