Office of Administrative Law Judges
Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) for the Authority are appointed under section 7105(d) of the Statute. The judges perform a variety of functions related primarily to conducting hearings and rendering recommended decisions in cases involving alleged unfair labor practices. In addition, Part 2430 of the Authority's Regulations require that judges render decisions involving applications for attorney fees filed under the Back Pay Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act.
The Office of Administrative Law Judges consists of three judges, a director of the Settlement Judge Program (ADR), and a paralegal specialist.
Inquiries concerning the Office of Administrative Law Judges, including the Settlement Judge Program should be directed to:
Chief Administrative Law Judge
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Office of Administrative Law Judges
1400 K St. NW.
Washington, D.C. 20424
FAX: (202) 482-6629
Part 2423, Subparts B, C and D of the Authority's Regulations, should be consulted for authoritative guidance on processing cases before an ALJ. Those processes are described briefly here.
After an unfair labor practice complaint is issued by a Regional Director and an answer to the complaint is filed, the parties may voluntarily participate in ADR using the Settlement Judge Program. Absent settlement, the parties must file pre-hearing disclosures at least 14 days prior to the hearing date. This document should identify their witnesses, provided a summary of their testimony, set forth the documentary evidence they intend to offer as evidence, and explain their theory of the case. The judge will then conduct a pre-hearing conference at least 7 days prior to the hearing date. The conference is designed to discuss, narrow, and resolve issues raised in the complaint, answer, and disclosures. Settlement may also be discussed along with outstanding motions, stipulations of fact, and subpoena requests. All parties are required to participate in the pre-hearing conference unless it is cancelled by the judge.
Stipulated Records and Motions for Summary Judgment
When all parties to a case agree that no material issue of fact exists, the parties may jointly submit a motion to the judge or to the Authority to consider the case based on a stipulation of fact. When submitted to the judge, the judge may grant the motion and decide the case through stipulation. In certain circumstances, the Authority may grant the motion and decide the case. In either event, no hearing is held.
Any party can move for summary judgment if the party can demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Motions must be filed at least 10 days prior to the start of the hearing. If all issues are decided by summary judgment, then no hearing is held and the judge prepares a written decision.
Hearing and Post-Hearing Procedures
Hearings are conducted in a fair, impartial, and judicial manner and in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act. All parties are afforded due process of law, which includes the right to appear in person or by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to introduce evidence. The General Counsel has the burden of proving the allegations of the complaint by a preponderance of the evidence. The Respondent has the burden of proving any affirmative defenses that it raises. Settlement discussions are encouraged and may be held even after the opening of the hearing.
Issuance of a Recommended Decision
At the discretion of the judge, and on joint motion of the parties, the judge may issue a bench decision at the close of a hearing. In so doing, the parties waive their right to file a post-hearing brief. Written material, including excerpts from the transcript, together with any supplementary material the judge deems necessary to complete the decision, is transmitted to the Authority and furnished to the parties. In all other cases, the judge prepares a written decision. The decision sets forth: the statement of the issues; relevant findings of fact; conclusions of law, and reasons therefor; credibility determinations, if necessary; and a recommended disposition or order. The judge's decision is transmitted to the Authority and served on the parties.
Exceptions to a Judge's Decision
A party wishing to file exceptions to a judge's decision must do so within 25 days after the date of service of the decision and in conformance with Part 2429 of the Authority's Regulations. The Authority may, on review of the exceptions, affirm, modify, or reverse in whole or in part decisions of the judges. Decisions of the Authority may be appealed to an appropriate appellate court on a petition for judicial review under section 7123 of the Statute. The Office of Solicitor represents the FLRA and defends the decisions in court. If no exceptions are filed to a judge's decision, then the decision is adopted by the Authority and, without precedential significance, becomes final and binding on the parties.