NLRB V. YESHIVA UNIV., 444 U. S. 672 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Yeshiva Univ., 444 U.S. 672 (1980)

National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University

No. 78-857

Argued October 10, 1979

Decided February 20, 1980*

444 U.S. 672


Yeshiva University Faculty Association (Union) filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (Board), seeking certification as bargaining agent for the full-time faculty members of certain schools of Yeshiva University, a private university. The University opposed the petition on the ground that all of its faculty members are managerial or supervisory personnel, and hence not employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act (Act). The evidence at hearings before the Board's hearing officer showed, inter alia, that a central administrative hierarchy serves all of the University's schools, with University-wide policies being formulated by the central administration upon approval of the Board of Trustees. However, the individual schools within the University are substantially autonomous, and the faculty members at each school effectively determine its curriculum, grading system, admission and matriculation standards, academic calendars, and course schedules. Also, the overwhelming majority of faculty recommendations as to faculty hiring, tenure, sabbaticals, termination, and promotion are implemented. The Board granted the Union's petition and directed an election. Summarily rejecting the University's contention that its faculty members are managerial employees, the Board held that the faculty members are professional employees entitled to the Act's protection. After the Union won the election and was certified, the University refused to bargain. In subsequent unfair labor practice proceedings, the Board ordered the University to bargain and sought enforcement in the Court of Appeals, which denied the petition. The court agreed that the faculty members are professional employees under § 2(12) of the Act, found that the Board had ignored "the extensive control of Yeshiva's faculty" over academic and personnel decisions, as well as its "crucial role . . . in determining other central policies of the institution," and accordingly held that the faculty members are endowed with "managerial status" sufficient to remove them from the Act's coverage.

Page 444 U. S. 673

Held: The University's full-time faculty members are managerial employees excluded from the Act's coverage. Pp. 444 U. S. 679-691.

(a) The authority structure of a university does not fit neatly into the statutory scheme, because authority in the typical "mature" private university is divided between a central administration and one or more collegial bodies. The absence of explicit congressional direction does not preclude the Board from reaching any particular type of employment, and the Board has approved the formation of bargaining units composed of faculty members on the ground that they are "professional employees" under § 2(12) of the Act. Nevertheless professionals may be exempted from coverage under the judicially implied exclusion for "managerial employees" when they are involved in developing and implementing employer policy. Pp. 444 U. S. 679-682.

(b) Here, application of the managerial exclusion to the University's faculty members is not precluded on the theory that they are not aligned with management because they are expected to exercise "independent professional judgment" while participating in academic governance and to pursue professional values, rather than institutional interests. The controlling consideration is that the faculty exercises authority which in any other context unquestionably would be managerial, its authority in academic matters being absolute. The faculty's professional interests -- as applied to governance at a university like Yeshiva which depends on the professional judgment of its faculty to formulate and apply policies -- cannot be separated from those of the institution, and thus it cannot be said that a faculty member exercising independent judgment acts primarily in his own interest, and does not represent the interest of his employer. Pp. 444 U. S. 682-690.

(c) The deference ordinarily due the Board's expertise does not require reversal of the Court of Appeals' decision. This Court respects the Board's expertise when its conclusions are rationally based on articulated facts and consistent with the Act, but here the Board's decision satisfies neither criterion. P. 444 U. S. 691.

582 F.2d 686, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 444 U. S. 691.

Page 444 U. S. 674

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