International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. Quality Manufacturing Company

PETITIONER: International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
RESPONDENT: Quality Manufacturing Company, National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Quality Manufacturing Co.

DOCKET NO.: 73-765
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 420 US 276 (1975)
ARGUED: Nov 18, 1974
DECIDED: Feb 19, 1975
GRANTED: Apr 29, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Bernard Dunau - for petitioner
John E. Jenkins, Jr. - for respondents

Facts of the case

Quality Manufacturing Company fired an employee after she refused to meet with the company president without a union representative. The shop chairlady and assistant chairlady were also fired for trying to represent the employee at the meeting and for filing a grievance. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that these discharges constituted unfair labor practices because the employee reasonably believed that disciplinary action would occur at the meeting. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the ruling was an impermissible departure from prior NLRB precedent.

Question

Did the discharges constitute an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act?

Media for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. Quality Manufacturing Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1974 in International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. Quality Manufacturing Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 19, 1975 in International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. Quality Manufacturing Company

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The last two cases are 73-765, International Garment Workers v. Quality Manufacturing Co. and 73-1363, National Labor Relations Board v. Weingarten.

The first on cert from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the second on certiorari from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

They are companion cases presenting the same question namely, whether an employer commits an unfair labor practice by refusing an employee's request that the employee be accompanied by a union representative at an interview with the employer that the employee reasonably believes may result in disciplinary action.

In quality, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and in Weingarten, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the employer did not commit an unfair labor practice in such cases.

We disagree and reverse the judgment of each Court of Appeals.

We hold that it was within the competence of the Board to find that although some earlier Board precedence may be read as reaching a contrary conclusion, the Board's accumulating experience with the problems justified its holding that the employer's refusal constituted an unfair labor practice in violation of Section 8 (a) (1) as an interference with the right of the employee protected by Section 7 to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection.

The Chief Justice dissents and has filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Powell also dissents and joined by Mr. Justice Stewart, has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Brennan.