Federal Labor Relations Authority
Office of the Solicitor
Closed Court Litigation
Nat'l Fed'n of Fed. Employees v. United States Dep't of the Interior, 526 U.S. 86 (1999), reviewing United States Dep't of the Interior v. FLRA , 132 F.3d 157 (4th Cir. 1997).
The Supreme Court remanded the Fourth Circuit's decision in which the Fourth Circuit held that the Agency had no obligation to bargain endterm over a collective bargaining agreement provision to permit negotiations over Union-initiated midterm proposals. Regarding the issue of midterm bargaining, the Supreme Court concluded that the Authority's interpretation of the Statute is entitled to deference and vacated the Fourth Circuit's decision in United States Dep't of the Interior v. FLRA, 132 F.3d 157 (4th Cir. 1997), that an agency is not obligated to bargain over a proposal, offered during term negotiations, that would require it to engage in union-initiated midterm bargaining. The Court rejected the Fourth Circuit's premise that the Statute imposes no obligation on Federal agencies to bargain midterm and held that the Statute was "sufficiently ambiguous" as to require deference to the Authority's interpretation. The Court stated that it was up to the Authority to determine "whether, when, where, and what sort of midterm bargaining is required." The Court remanded the case to the Fourth Circuit, which, in turn, remanded the case to the Authority for proceedings consistent with the opinion of the Supreme Court.
NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229 (1999), reviewing FLRA v. Nat'l Aeronautics and Space Admin., Washington, D.C., 120 F.3d 1208 (11th Cir. 1997).
The Supreme Court affirmed the Authority's (50 FLRA 601 (1995)) and the Eleventh Circuit's decisions (FLRA v. Nat'l Aeronautics and Space Admin., Washington, D.C., 120 F.3d 1208 (11th Cir. 1997)) that an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigator is a "representative of the agency" when examining a bargaining unit employee who reasonably fears that discipline might result from the examination. Relying on the language of the Statute and the Authority's interpretation in 50 FLRA 601, the Court rejected NASA's argument that "representative" is limited to the entity that collectively bargains with the union. The Court also held that the Authority's decision is consistent with the Inspector General Act, which provides that an agency's OIG investigators are "employed by, act on behalf of, and operate for the benefit of" that agency.
The Supreme Court granted the Authority's petition for certiorari and vacated the Second Circuit's denial of summary enforcement of an Authority decision that found that the Agency had violated its employees' rights under section 7114(a)(2)(B) of the Statute. The Court directed the Second Circuit to reconsider its ruling in light of the Court's recent decision in NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229 (1999).
Dep't of Defense v. FLRA, 510 U.S. 487 (1994), 114 S. Ct. 1006 (1994), (involving 37 FLRA 652 (1990) and 37 FLRA 930 (1990)).
The Supreme Court overturned Authority rulings on the release of employee home addresses and held that the Privacy Act prevents disclosure of home addresses to collective bargaining representatives who had requested the information under the Statute. The Court had granted review of a Fifth Circuit decision (975 F.2d 1105 (5th Cir. 1992)) enforcing Authority disclosure orders. The Court ruled that the Privacy Act's bar applied because disclosure was not required under Exemption 6 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which exempts from disclosure personnel files "the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." The Court held that under Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for the Freedom of Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989), the only public interest to be balanced against the employees' privacy interest in keeping their home addresses private is the extent to which the FOIA's central purpose of opening agency action to public scrutiny would be served by disclosure.