In a late February decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a significant decision for employers and employees alike in the case of KHRG Employer, LLC dba Hotel Burnham & Atwood Café.
Evan Demma worked for two years in efforts to organize the Hotel Burnham & Atwood Café in Chicago. In 2014, he participated in demonstrations and protests outside the hotel as part of these efforts. That fall, he and other employees of the hotel presented its General Manager with a petition outlining working conditions. The presentation occurred in the hotel lobby. The hotel did not take any disciplinary action against Demma or other employees for participating in these efforts to unionize.
In October 2015, Demma led 20 people to deliver another petition regarding working conditions, but this time the General Manager was in her office in a secure area of the hotel. A security guard stopped the group at the entrance and told Demma only four workers would be allowed to go to the manager’s office. Demma said every individual in the group was an employee, but Demma knew this to be false — only six were employees. Demma’s group got past the guard and through the hotel’s password-protected area, where not only are there managers’ offices, but also cash, personal information, personnel files, financial reports and other secure files.
The hotel investigated Demma’s actions, and several employees had been upset that nonemployees were let through this secured area. After finding Demma used a secure password to provide unauthorized access, the hotel fired Demma for violating security policies.
Courts side with the hotel
Demma argued his firing was retaliation for delivering a petition to the GM, but the hotel’s history of not disciplining organizing employees reflected well on it in court. The court ruled in favor of the hotel, saying it did not violate any law by terminating Demma for a violation of security protocols.
The case is just another reminder that protected activities under the National Labor Relations Act do not shield employees from all types of discipline and for any reason.
For more information on NLRA violations, contact a trusted Dallas lawyer with Kardell Law Group.