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A union's bare assertion that it needs information to process a grievance does not automatically oblige the employer to supply all the information in the manner requested. The duty to supply information under § 8 (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. §§ 151-158, turns upon the circumstances of the particular case.
Petitioner, Detroit Edison Co., in response to a request made by the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 223, AFL-CIO (Union) in connection with arbitration of a grievance filed on behalf of employees in a bargaining unit, supplied the Union with certain information pertaining to petitioner's employee psychological aptitude testing program under which certain unit employees had been rejected for certain job openings because of their failure to receive "acceptable" test scores. However, petitioner refused to release the actual test questions, the actual employee answer sheets, and the scores linked with the names of the employees who received them, maintaining that complete confidentiality of these materials was necessary to insure the future integrity of the tests and to protect the examinees' privacy interests. Petitioner did offer to turn over the scores of any employee who signed a waiver releasing petitioner's psychologist from his pledge of confidentiality, but the Union declined to seek such releases. In unfair labor practice proceedings against petitioner -- based on the Union's charge that petitioner had violated its duty to bargain collectively under § 8 (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to provide relevant information needed by the Union for the proper performance of its duties as the employees' bargaining representative -- the National Labor Relations Board concluded that all the requested items were relevant to the grievance and ordered petitioner to turn over all of the materials directly to the Union, subject to certain restrictions on the Union's use of the information. The Board rejected petitioner's request that, in order to preserve test secrecy, the tests and answer sheets be turned over to an industrial psychologist selected by the Union. The Board and the Court of Appeals, in its decision enforcing the Board's order, both rejected petitioner's claim that employee privacy and the professional obligations of petitioner's industrial psychologists should outweigh the Union's request for the employee-linked scores.
Under the circumstances, was it proper to order the petitioner to turn over the test battery and answer sheets directly to the Union, notwithstanding the confidentiality of the aforesaid materials?
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded, holding that the National Labor Relations Board abused its remedial discretion in ordering the employer to turn over its set of standardized aptitude tests (the "test battery") and answer sheets directly to the union, where the Board identified no justification for a remedy which granted such inadequate protection to the employer's undisputed and important interests in test secrecy. Moreover, the Court held that the Board erred in requiring unconditional disclosure of employee scores to the union, since the employer did not violate its statutory obligation under 8(a)(5) to bargain in good faith by refusing to disclose test scores linked with employee names without written consent from the examinees, the employer's conditional offer to disclose being warranted in light of the sensitive nature of the testing information, the minimal burden that compliance with the employer's offer placed on the union, and the total absence of evidence that the employer had fabricated concern for employee confidentiality only to frustrate the union in the discharge of its responsibilities.