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A low-level supervisor’s questioning of an employee about how many employees attended a union meeting was lawful, since the tone was not hostile and it was not accompanied by threats of reprisals, ruled the NLRB in a 2-1 decision. In this instance, the supervisor’s questioning was unrelated to subsequent unlawful conduct by the employer, and the supervisor did not appear to be seeking information to take action against individual employees. Member Liebman dissented on this issue. ( John W. Hancock, Jr., Inc, 337 NLRB No. 183). On the day after the union held a meeting at the local civic center, the supervisor David Kelly was riding in a truck with an employee, Ray Preston Connor, from one employer plant to another during a breaktime. During the brief ride, Kelly asked the Connor: “How many men were at the meeting last night?” Connor replied that he did not know and Kelly dropped the subject. The Board majority observed that to decide whether an interrogation is unlawful requires an evaluation of all of the circumstances to determine whether the questioning reasonably tended to restrain, coerce, or interfere with rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. In short, allegations of coercive interrogation must be evaluated in light of the totality of the circumstances. In conducting that evaluation, the Board considers the employer’s background, the nature of the information sought, the identity of the questioner and the place and method of interrogation. Other unfair labor practices engaged in by the employer all postdated the questioning and were unrelated to that questioning. The answer to Kelly’s question would not have revealed the union sentiments of any one individual, so there was not indication that information was sought to take action against individual employees. Further, since the questioning took place in a truck, there was no atmosphere of “unnatural formality.” The question arose casually as part of an ordinary conversation and there was no suggestion that Kelly’s tone was hostile or that a threat of reprisal accompanied the questioning. � 2002, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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