NLRB Acting General Counsel Accused of Ethics Violation in Wal-Mart Social Media Case
Solomon was accused of participating in a case involving an unfair labor practice complaint against Wal-Mart’s social media policy, when he held a financial interest in the company. The OIG says its investigation showed that “Mr. Solomon did in fact participate personally and substantially, as the Acting General Counsel, in the case involving Wal-Mart's social media policy knowing that he owned Wal-Mart stock valued at $15,000.00 or more, and that the case involving Wal-Mart's social media policy would have a direct and predictable effect on that financial interest…Mr. Solomon acknowledged that he reviewed the Advice Memorandum; that he met with the Advice staff to discuss the Wal-Mart case; that he made a decision that further work was needed before a decision on the merits of the charge could be made; and that he directed his subordinates to contact the Wal-Mart representatives to attempt to reach a resolution that would negate his need to make a decision on the merits of the charge.”
“Mr. Solomon's participation in the Wal-Mart case was substantial because he engaged in a decision-making process that involved the question of whether to issue a complaint against Wal-Mart; he stopped the Division of Advice from sending the Advice Memorandum to the Regional Office; he discussed concerns about Wal-Mart's social media policy; and he instructed the Division of Advice to seek a resolution with Wal-Mart's representatives that would result in the dismissing of a charge. Those types of actions are clearly not perfunctory, administrative, or peripheral; they are rather very central to issues of how the Agency was to proceed with the case against Wal-Mart. The participation by Mr. Solomon, while not resulting in a decision to authorize the issuance of a complaint, did result in a determination of how to bring to bear upon Wal-Mart the authority of the Federal Government to effect a change in a policy that affects each of Wal-Mart's employees and was, by its very nature, intended to be determinative of the outcome. Participating in that type of decision-making process of whether, when, and how to engage a charged party to seek a resolution of a case is of such significance so as to render it substantial participation,” the OIG memo says.