NLRB v. Baptist Hosp., Inc.
442 U.S. 773 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Baptist Hosp., Inc., 442 U.S. 773 (1979)

National Labor Relations Board v. Baptist Hospital, Inc.

No. 78-223

Argued April 23, 1979

Decided June 20, 1979

442 U.S. 773

Syllabus

Intervenor labor union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board with respect to respondent hospital's rule prohibiting solicitation by its employees at all times "in any area of the Hospital which is accessible to or utilized by the public," including the lobbies, gift shop, cafeteria, and entrances on the first floor, as well as corridors, sitting rooms, and public restrooms on the other floors. In justification of the rule, respondent offered extensive evidence, through the testimony of doctors and hospital officials, as to the need for the rule to prevent interference with patients' treatment and convalescence, especially as applicable in the corridors and sitting rooms adjoining or accessible to the patients' rooms on the upper floors of the hospital. After applying its presumption that the no-solicitation rule was invalid except in "immediate patient care areas," the NLRB concluded that respondent had failed to meet the burden placed upon it by such presumption, found that there was no demonstrated likelihood that solicitation outside of "immediate patient care areas" would disrupt patient care or disturb patients, and, accordingly, issued an order prohibiting respondent from applying the no-solicitation rule in any area of the hospital other than "immediate patient care areas." The Court of Appeals denied enforcement of the order, holding that respondent had presented sufficient evidence of the ill effects of solicitation on patient care to justify the broad prohibition of solicitation.

Held:

1. Given the definition of "immediate patient care areas" as areas "such as patients' rooms, operating rooms, and places where patients receive treatment," the NLRB's order prevents respondent from applying its no-solicitation rule not only to its lobbies, cafeteria, and gift shop but also to the corridors and sitting rooms that adjoin or are accessible to patients' rooms and operating and treatment rooms. Pp. 442 U. S. 778-781.

2. The Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the NLRB lacked substantial evidence in the record to support its order forbidding any prohibition of solicitation in the corridors and sitting rooms on floors of

Page 442 U. S. 774

the hospital having either patients' rooms or operating and therapy rooms. Nothing in the evidence provided any basis, with respect to those areas, for doubting the accuracy of the doctors' testimony for respondent that union solicitation in the presence or within the hearing of patients may have adverse effects on their recovery. Pp. 442 U. S. 784-786.

3. There was, however, substantial evidence in the record to support t.he NLRB's conclusion that respondent had not justified the prohibition of union solicitation in the cafeteria, gift shop, and lobbies on the first floor of the hospital. While there was no evidence directly contradicting the expert testimony offered by respondent as to the importance of a tranquil hospital atmosphere to successful patient care, nevertheless, when viewed as a whole, the evidence presented by respondent may be regarded fairly as insufficient to rebut the NLRB's presumption that the needs of essential patient care do not require the banning of all solicitation in such areas. Pp. 442 U. S. 786-787.

4. This Court does not agree with the apparent view of the Court of Appeals that the NLRB's presumption is irrational in all respects, since experience in such cases as Beth Israel Hospital v. NLRB,437 U. S. 483, and the present one makes clear that solicitation in at least some of the public areas of hospitals often will not adversely affect patient care or disturb patients. But the evidence in this case and other similar cases does cast serious doubt on a presumption as to hospitals so sweeping that it embraces solicitation in the corridors and sitting rooms on floors occupied by patients. Pp. 442 U. S. 787-790.

576 F.2d 107, affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 442 U. S. 791. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 442 U. S. 791. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which WHITE and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 442 U. S. 793.

Page 442 U. S. 775

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