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November 24, 2014

U.S. Senate Committee Considers National Labor Relations Board Nomination

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week considered the nomination of Lauren McFerran to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Littler, the largest employment and labor law practice in the world, reports the committee hearing was “relatively sedate,” but also that McFerran would not answer questions about many of the issues and cases facing the NLRB. 

Specifically, McFerran would not answer questions about the definition of “joint employer,” an issue that threatens to make more employers subject to employee litigation. Littler reports, “Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) attempted to elicit McFerran’s opinion on who should be considered an ‘employer’ for liability purposes, but she did not take the bait. Instead, she responded that defining who is an employer is an issue that might be something she would have to address as a member of the Board … She said she did not want to prejudge the matter, and that such inquiries are likely fact-specific and “difficult to answer in the abstract.” 

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) indicated the full committee would vote on McFerran’s nomination after Thanksgiving. As Connecting the Dots reported last week, Republicans favor tabling McFerran’s nomination until their party takes over the Senate in January, but at this point, it looks like the Senate will consider the nomination in December.