A federal appellate court in Richmond, Va., has refused to reconsider its decision that Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., committed a number of unfair labor practices when it tried to stop its nurses from unionizing.
It was unclear whether the hospital would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case represents the second human resources black eye for the hospital. Last September, the hospital became the first employer in any industry to settle charges that it discriminated against women in its hiring practices (Nov. 15, 1993, p. 88).
In the union case, the District of Columbia Nurses Association, which has been trying to organize the hospital's 1,500 nurses, charged the hospital with a series of unfair labor practices dating back to 1988. The union said the hospital created a number of new rules and began enforcing little-known rules to inhibit pro-union nurses from generating support for their cause.
Two rules limited the use of employee bulletin boards and mailboxes to hospital-approved information. Another barred the wearing of specific pins, including union buttons.
In 1992, a federal administrative law judge assigned to the National Labor Relations Board agreed with the union, ruling the hospital violated provisions of the National Labor Relations Act that bar employers from interfering with employee organizing efforts.
The NLRB later upheld the ruling and ordered the hospital to rescind its rules. The hospital appealed, and in a 24-page opinion, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the NLRB's decision in December.
"This decision by the 4th Circuit affirms the rights of nurses to talk at work about worklife issues without fear of surveillance, reprisal or harassment," the union said in a statement.