The protection afforded workers by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) extends only to that class of workers defined by the Act as employees.' The term employee as defined by the Act specifically excludes "any individual employed as a supervisor." The Act defines a supervisor as:
any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.
The original act, however, did not specifically exclude supervisors in its definition of the term employee. Supervisors were excluded from the protection afforded workers by the Act as a result of the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.
The legislative reports make it clear that Congress wished in part to assure that rank-and-file employees could unionize and select their leaders free from undue influence by supervisors in the union, but more important to assure that supervisors-whether organized within a rank-and-file union or organized independently-would not fall into league with or become accountable to employees whom they are charged to supervise and thereby renounce the undivided loyalty due the employer.
It has also been noted that the Taft-Hartley Act represented a response to "what many viewed as a tendency by the NLRB toward overzealous regulation of employer conduct through its unfair labor practice jurisdiction. . . . " Thus,the policy behind excluding supervisors from the protection afforded workers by the Act was to allow employers freedom in the selection of their supervisory personnel. This policy is in jeopardy, however, as a result of the test applied by the NLRB when reviewing employee protests over supervisory changes.
Nichols, Andrew Gage
"Employee Protests Over Supervisory Changes: The NLRB Versus the Circuit Courts,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 32:
3, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol32/iss3/9