IBM Corp., 341 NLRB No. 148 (June 9, 2004)

In this far-reaching decision, the National Labor Relations Board overruled its own recent decision in Epilepsy Found. of N.E. Ohio, 331 NLRB 676 (2000), and held that employees who are not represented by a union are not entitled to have a coworker present during investigatory interviews. In this decision, the Board held that IBM had not violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act when it denied the requests of three of its employees who asked to have a coworker or attorney present in interviews the company was conducting in response to allegations of harassment that had been made by a former employee. The Board wrote that “our consideration of … the contemporary workplace leads us to conclude that an employer must be allowed to conduct its required investigations in a thorough, sensitive, and confidential manner. This can best be accomplished by permitting an employer in a nonunion setting to investigate an employee without the presence of a coworker.”