ABF Freight System, Inc. v. NLRB
Annotate this Case
510 U.S. 317 (1994)
OCTOBER TERM, 1993
ABF FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT
No. 92-1550. Argued December 1, 1993-Decided January 24,1994
After Michael Manso gave his employer, petitioner ABF Freight System, Inc. (ABF), a false excuse for being late to work, ABF ascertained that he was lying and fired him on the asserted ground of tardiness. He filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (Board) and repeated his false tardiness excuse while testifying under oath before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who denied him relief upon concluding that he had lied and that ABF had discharged him for cause. The Board reversed in relevant part, finding that ABF did not in fact fire Manso for lying but had seized upon his tardiness as a pretext to discharge him for earlier union activities. Notwithstanding his dishonesty, the Board ordered ABF to reinstate him with backpay. The Court of Appeals enforced the order, rejecting ABF's argument that awarding reinstatement and backpay to an employee who lied to his employer and to the ALJ violated public policy.
Held: Manso's false testimony under oath before the ALJ did not preclude the Board from granting him reinstatement with backpay. Although such misconduct is intolerable in a formal proceeding, 29 U. S. C. § 160(c) expressly delegates to the Board the primary responsibility for making remedial decisions, including awarding reinstatement with backpay, that best effectuate the policies of the National Labor Relations Act (Act) when the Board has substantiated an unfair labor practice. Confronted with that kind of express delegation, courts must give an agency's decision controlling weight unless it is arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the Act. It cannot be said that the Board's remedial order in this case was an abuse of its broad discretion or that it was obligated to adopt a rigid rule that would foreclose relief in all comparable cases. Nor can its conclusions be faulted that Manso's reason for being late to work was ultimately irrelevant to whether antiunion animus actually motivated his discharge and that ordering effective relief in a case of this character promotes a vital public interest. It would be unfair to sanction Manso while indirectly rewarding the lack of candor of several ABF witnesses, whose testimony the ALJ and the Board refused to credit. Moreover, a categorical rule against relief might force the
Board to divert its attention away from its primary mission and toward resolving collateral credibility disputes. Pp. 322-325.
982 F.2d 441, affirmed.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and BLACKMUN, KENNEDY, SOUTER, THOMAS, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 325. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 326.
John v: Jansonius argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jill J. Weinberg and Alan Wright.
Deputy Solicitor General Wallace argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Days, Michael R. Dreeben, Jerry M. Hunter, Nicholas E. Karatinos, Norton J. Come, Linda Sher, and John Emad Arbab.*
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court. Michael Manso gave his employer a false excuse for being late to work and repeated that falsehood while testifying under oath before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Notwithstanding Manso's dishonesty, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) ordered Manso's former employer to reinstate him with backpay. Our interest in preserving the integrity of administrative proceedings prompted us to grant
* James D. Holzhauer, Timothy S. Bishop, and Daniel R. Barney filed a brief for the American Trucking Associations as amicus curiae urging reversal.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations by Marsha S. Berzon and Laurence Gold; for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law et al. by Herbert M. Wachtell, William H. Brown III, Norman Redlich, Thomas J. Henderson, Richard T. Seymour, Sharon R. Vinick, Mitchell Rogovin, Randal S. Milch, Robert C. Bell, Jr., and Donna R. Lenhoff
E. Carl U ehlein, Jr., Joseph E. Santucci, Jr., Stephen A. Bokat, Robin S. Conrad, and Mona C. Zeiberg filed a brief for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States et al. as amici curiae.