Beth Israel Hospital v. National Labor Relations Board

PETITIONER: Beth Israel Hospital
RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Beth Israel Hospital

DOCKET NO.: 77-152
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 437 US 483 (1978)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Louis Chandler -
Laurence Stephen Gold - on behalf of the intervener Union
Norton J. Come - for respondent
Robert Chandler - on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case

Beth Israel Hospital, a nonprofit hospital, had a rule that prohibited employees from soliciting and distributing literature except in sanctioned areas such as certain employee locker rooms and restrooms. An employee distributing a pro-union newsletter in the employee cafeteria was informed that she had violated the rule and was warned of possible dismissal if she continued. The union filed a claim against the hospital under the National Labor Relations Act, which in 1974 was extended to employees of nonprofit healthcare institutions. After a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Administrative Law Judge, who resolves disputes between government agencies and persons affected by the decision of the agencies, held that the hospital cannot interfere with the employees' rights and must rescind its written rule prohibiting distribution of union literature and union solicitation in its cafeteria and coffee shop. The hospital appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which affirmed the part of the lower court's ruling that called for rescinding the rule that excluded union activity in eating facilities.

Question

Was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit correct in upholding the part of the National Labor Relations Board's order that barred the hospital from enforcing its rule that prohibited employees from distributing union literature and soliciting support in eating facilities?

Media for Beth Israel Hospital v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1978 in Beth Israel Hospital v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 22, 1978 in Beth Israel Hospital v. National Labor Relations Board

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the court in 77-152, Beth Israel Hospital against the Labor Board will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan, and he will also announce in 77-124, Hicklin against Orbeck.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The first case, 77-152, captioned Beth Israel Hospital versus the National Labor Relations Board, in that case the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit enforced so much of an order of the National Labor Relations Board as required Beth Israel, a non-profit hospital, whose employees came under the protection of National Labor Relations Act only in 1974 when that Act was amended to bring employees of non-profit hospitals within the Act.

The Court of Appeals enforced the order which required the hospital to rescind a rule, prohibiting its employees from soliciting union support and distributing union literature during nonworking time in the hospital cafeteria and in adjoining coffee shop.

The cafeteria was patronized primarily by employees, but also by patients and by visitors to the hospital.

A survey conducted by the hospital itself revealed that 77% of the cafeteria's patrons were employees, only 9% were visitors and only one-and-a-half % were patients.

And the evidence was also that although petitioner employees approximately 2200 regular employees, this hospital incidentally is in Boston, access the most of those employees was possible only in the cafeteria which was in effect the only common gathering room at the hospital set aside for employees.

Well, the National Labor Relations Board held that the hospital's rule violated Sections 8 (a) (1) and the (3) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Court of Appeals agreed only insofar as the rule applied to the cafeteria, and for reasons that stated in an opinion filed with the clerk today, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Blackmun and Mr. Justice Powell have filed separate opinions in both of which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Rehnquist joined, concurring in the judgment.