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A successor employer could not meet its burden of showing that it had no notice of the unfair labor practices committed by its predecessor, thus, it could be held liable for the unremedied violations, ruled a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board. When Samuel Bent purchased the assets of S. Bent & Brothers (Bent), he knew that a collective bargaining agreement was in place, and that the bargaining agreement included health and dental plan provisions. Samuel Bent also knew of other benefits currently being offered by Bent. Therefore, as the successor employer, Samuel Bent could be held liable for the predecessor’s unilateral termination of those benefits (S. Bent & Brothers and Samuel Bent LLC, 2001-02 CCH NLRB �16,088). The administrative law judge had found that Samuel Bent could not be held liable for the unremedied unfair labor practices because it did not know that unfair labor practices had been filed when it purchased the company. The Board did not accept this finding, however. It noted that whether the successor knew of the specific charges or complaints did not matter; rather, the question of liability turns on whether the successor was aware of the actual underlying conduct that the Board ultimately determined to be unlawful. The Board also rejected Samuel Bent’s defense that, even though he knew that the predecessor terminated the medical, dental, and other benefits, he was not aware of the circumstances of the termination; thus, he did not know that the termination of benefits was actually an unfair labor practice. The Board cited the due diligence requirement of successors: “while a successor employer is not required to aggressively investigate its predecessor in order to meet the reasonable diligence standard, it cannot with impunity ignore its predecessor’s noncompliance with a collective bargaining agreement, as [the successor] in this case did, and then rely on its ignorance to argue that it was not on notice of the predecessor’s unfair labor practices.” Finally, the Board cited other factors weighing in favor of holding Samuel Bent liable. It noted that the public interest, and the interests of the victimized employees, would be best served by requiring the successor to remedy the violations. It also concluded that, since the employer had notice of the unfair labor practices prior to purchasing the business, he knew of his potential liability for remedying them; this liability might well have been factored into the purchase price of the business. Accordingly, Samuel Bent was required to remedy the Bent’s unilateral termination of benefits. � 2002, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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