NLRB v. Transportation Mgmt.
462 U.S. 393 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Transportation Mgmt., 462 U.S. 393 (1983)

National Labor Relations Board v. Transportation Management Corp.

No. 82-168.

Argued March 28, 1983

Decided June 15, 1983

462 U.S. 393

Syllabus

Acting on unfair labor practice charges filed by an employee of respondent, petitioner National Labor Relations Board found that respondent had discharged the employee, a bus driver, for his union activities, in violation of §§ 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act. The Board applied its rule that the General Counsel has the burden of persuading the Board by a preponderance of the evidence that an antiunion animus contributed to the employer's decision to discharge the employee, and the employer can avoid the conclusion that it violated the Act by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee would have been fired for permissible reasons even if he had not been involved in protected union activities. The Board concluded that respondent failed to carry its burden of persuading the Board that the employee's discharge would have taken place, even if he had not been engaged in protected union activities, because of his practice of leaving his keys in the bus and taking unauthorized breaks. The Court of Appeals refused to enforce the Board's order, based on its view that it was error to place the burden on the employer, and that the General Counsel carried the burden of proving not only that a forbidden motivation contributed to the discharge but also that the discharge would not have taken place independently of the employee's protected conduct.

Held:

1. The burden of proof placed on the employer under the Board's rule is consistent with §§ 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3), as well as with § 10(c) of the Act, which provides that the Board must find an unfair labor practice by a "preponderance of the testimony." The Board's construction of the statute, which is not mandated by the Act, extends to the employer what the Board considers to be an affirmative defense, but does not change or add to the elements of the unfair labor practice that the General Counsel has the burden of proving under § 10(c). This is a permissible construction, and the Board's allocation of the burden of proof is reasonable. Cf. Mt. Healthy City Board of Education v. Doyle,429 U. S. 274. Pp. 462 U. S. 397-404.

2. The Board was justified in this case in finding that the employee would not have been discharged had respondent not considered his protected

Page 462 U. S. 394

activities. Such finding was supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole. 462 U. S. 404-405.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

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