A federal appeals court on Friday vacated a National Labor Relations Board decision that said an electrical utility company in Texas unlawfully fired a union worker after he criticized the company’s digital “smart meters” at a state legislative hearing.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the NLRB failed to explain how Oncor Electric Delivery Co employee Bobby Reed conveyed at the hearing that his testimony was connected to an ongoing labor dispute. Under board precedent, the National Labor Relations Act protects a worker’s disparaging statements to third parties only if it is clear they are related to an ongoing labor dispute and are not so disloyal, reckless or maliciously untrue that they lose protection.
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