Law School Case Brief
Textile Workers Union v. Darlington Mfg. Co. - 380 U.S. 263, 85 S. Ct. 994 (1965)
Section 8 (a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(1), provides that it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of rights under § 7 of the Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 157. Naturally, certain business decisions will, to some degree, interfere with concerted activities by employees. But it is only when the interference with § 7 rights outweighs the business justification for the employer's action that § 8 (a)(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(1), is violated.
A majority of the stock of Darlington Manufacturing Company, a textile mill, was owned by Deering Milliken, a marketing corporation, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that the latter company was in turn controlled by Roger Milliken, Darlington's president, and members of his family. An organizational campaign by petitioner union at Darlington, although strongly resisted by the company, including threats to close the mill, was successful. Shortly thereafter the company was liquidated, the plant closed and the equipment sold. The National Labor Relations Board found that the closing was due to Roger Milliken's antiunion animus, a violation of § 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act; that Darlington was part of a single integrated employer group controlled by the Milliken family through Deering Milliken, operating 17 textile companies with 27 mills; and, alternatively, since Darlington was part of the integrated enterprise, Deering Milliken violated the Act by closing part of its business for a discriminatory purpose. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that, even assuming Deering Milliken was a single employer, it had the right to terminate all or part of its business regardless of antiunion motives.
Did the court of appeals err in holding that Deering Milliken had the absolute right to terminate its entire business for any reason it pleased, including the ability to close part of a business, no matter what the reason?
The United States Supreme Court held that so far as the Act was concerned, an employer had the absolute right to terminate its entire business for any reason it pleased, but disagreed with the court of appeals that such right included the ability to close part of a business, no matter what the reason. The Court remanded to the NLRB so as to afford the opportunity to make further findings on the issue of the purpose and effect of the plan closing.
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