WHEN: Wednesday, July 19 at 3:00 PM EST
WHERE: U.S. Western District Court of Michigan (699 Federal Building, Grand Rapids, Michigan)
WHO: Buck Dougherty, Senior Counsel, Liberty Justice Center
WHAT: On Wednesday, July 19, the U.S. Western District Court of Michigan will hear oral arguments on ABC Michigan v. Abruzzo. The Liberty Justice Center, representing the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (ABC Michigan), is asking the Court to stop a memo threatening employers with prosecution for unfair labor practices and stifling their free speech.
Employers have had the right to discuss unions with their employees for 75 years—a right specifically protected within the National Labor Relations Act. However, in her recent memo, Jennifer Abruzzo—General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the nation’s chief labor prosecutor—announced that, upon a complaint, she would urge the NLRB to overturn the National Labor Relations Act and make it illegal for employers to talk to their employees about unions at mandatory meetings.
ABC Michigan argues that Abruzzo crossed the line in her memo to coerce employers to either give up their lawful First Amendment rights or face prosecution. As a result, ABC Michigan is asking the Court to order that Abruzzo take down the threatening memo from NLRB’s public website.
ISSUE BACKGROUND: Shortly after she was appointed to her role as General Counsel for the NLRB, Jennifer Abruzzo announced in a memo that she would consider it illegal for employers to discuss their views and opinions on unions with their employees at mandatory meetings. In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled that government officials may not threaten citizens and business owners with prosecution—an illegal practice referred to as “jawboning”—because such threats violate the First Amendment.
In this case, ABC Michigan has argued that Abruzzo is illegally using public memos to violate the First Amendment rights of business owners and employers. The Liberty Justice Center is suing Abruzzo to challenge this violation of employers’ free speech rights.
The Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on March 16, 2023.