On Monday, July 24, 2023, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Ringler issued a decision finding that The Saldivar Group, LLC (TSG), a law enforcement and security training company, violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening, interrogating, and firing a worker who lodged a complaint about withheld wages with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL-WHD).

Judge Ringler found that the worker’s call to DOL-WHD “quickly set in motion the Machiavellian events” that resulted in the worker’s improper firing. After a DOL-WHD investigator contacted TSG management about the worker’s complaint, TSG narrowed down who was “the culprit” worker behind the call and foreshadowed that “there would be consequences” to the worker’s actions.

Within three short days of the call to DOL-WHD, the worker was summoned to meet with a TSG manager and human resources consultant where he was questioned about a variety of issues, including the call to DOL-WHD, and then was summarily terminated. After the termination, TSG created an investigation report citing prior alleged incidents of misconduct by the worker as basis for the termination. In agreement with the NLRB General Counsel’s position, the Judge found that the worker engaged in protected concerted activity when he called DOL-WHD to complain about TSG’s failure to pay its employees’ wages. Judge Ringler further found that TSG’s defenses failed to show that it would have fired the worker in the absence of his protected concerted activity.

Judge Ringler ordered TSG to reinstate the fired worker, make him whole for lost earnings and benefits, including compensation for all direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms, and distribute an electronic and physical notice posting of employees’ rights at TSG’s facility.

In this case, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies, the NLRB and the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division coordinated in support of the agencies’ respective enforcement mandates.

“This case is an excellent example of how our collaborative relationship with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division advances each of our law enforcement efforts” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “Workers reaching out to DOL, or other worker protection agencies, are often protected by those agencies’ laws and the National Labor Relations Act as well.”

“The NLRB’s coordination with DOL-WHD in this case was vital to the successful litigation outcome, and this partnership helps ensure that the rights of workers in Texas and throughout the country are protected when they collectively raise concerns about wages, hours, or working conditions,” said NLRB Region 16, Fort Worth, Texas, Regional Director Timothy L. Watson. “I am very proud of the staff in Region 16 for their efforts in protecting these rights in this case,” Watson added.

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