Nash v. Florida Industrial Commission

RESPONDENT: Florida Industrial Commission
LOCATION: Formerly Sam’s Stationery and Luncheonette

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 389 US 235 (1967)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1967
DECIDED: Dec 05, 1967

Facts of the case


Media for Nash v. Florida Industrial Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1967 in Nash v. Florida Industrial Commission

Earl Warren:

Number 48, Minnie E. Nash, Petitioner, versus Florida Industrial Commission et al.

Michael H. Gottesman:

Mr. Chief Justice, --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Gottesman.

Michael H. Gottesman:

-- may it please the Court.

I hope the Court will indulge me, I had about with myringitis this week and I seem to be losing it.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Florida District Court of Appeals.

That issue is the constitutionality of a rule adapted by the Florida Industrial Commission that an employee who is otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation will automatically forfeit that entitlement by filing a charge with the National Labor Relations Board protesting his layoff for discharge.

The facts in this case are quite simple and we think rather neatly demonstrate how this rule was going to work in the future.

The petitioner was a member of the Steel Workers Union which was the bargaining agent at her plant.

They caught -- the bargaining agreement came to an end.

The parties had been unable to negotiate a new one.

A strike was called and the petitioner participated in that strike.

The strike was to save at least the flop.

It was unsuccessful.

The company kept operating.

And as a result, after a few weeks the union on behalf of all the employees announced that all of them were prepared to return.

The company took back some of the employees including petitioner but did not take back some of the others.

Now, petitioner made no claim for unemployment benefits during the period of the strike.

Florida, as does, I think every state denies unemployment during the period of the strike and no claim was made during that period.

But three or four weeks after petitioner had come back to work, the company advised her that she was laid off.

She was laid off said the company because we don't have enough work to keep you busy.

And so she applied for unemployment benefits and began to receive them.

This is the typical case on which unemployment is paid.

Three weeks thereafter, as petitioner saw many of her fellow participants in the strike also being laid off, she and they decided that perhaps the real reason they had been laid off was not as the company said because there wasn't enough work but rather because as a means of retaliation for them having participated in the earlier strike.

And so, petitioner and her fellow laid off workers asked and got the union to file on their behalf the charge with the National Labor Relations Board asserting that the real reason they had been laid off a month earlier and were still on layoff was because they had favored the union and was as a means of retaliation.

Now, though the procedures are complicated with the Florida Industrial Commission ultimately held was that petitioner was entitled to have received her unemployment compensation as she did.

For the first four weeks of that layoff because as the Commission said, during that time she did not challenge the layoff but said the commission the moment she filed that charge with the Labor Board, she automatically disqualified herself and forfeited any right to further unemployment compensation because said the commission, we will deem the filing of the charge the creation of a labor dispute.

And through some artificial means that I frankly cannot comprehend, we will now say that having filed that charge, her unemployment is caused by a labor dispute though we don't say that for the first four weeks while she remained silent that it was caused by the labor dispute.

So we have a ruling which is a little bit hard to square with Florida's own statute but of course we can interpret it as it will that if a company says you are laid off for economic reasons, you are until you dispute it.

And at the moment you dispute it the active dispute, the active going to the National Labor Relations Board causes your unemployment to be due to the labor dispute.