Following her relatively strong performances in the first two primary debates, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has seen a surge in support unmatched by any other Democrat vying for the White House. But Warren’s lunge toward her party’s nomination may have just hit a legal roadblock.
According to Bloomberg Law, Warren’s campaign has been hit with a complaint over unfair labor practices. The charge was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Warren hit with labor complaint
Bloomberg Law reported that the complaint originated with a Colorado-based tenant’s rights attorney named Jason Legg, who also happens to be a supporter of one of Warren’s main rivals, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — though Legg insisted that politics was not the main motivator for his complaint.
Still, Legg admitted, “I can’t say I’m not at all politically motivated, I’m a Sanders supporter and Warren’s my second choice, so I guess this is one way to show the contrast.”
Investigation on the horizon?
The complaint is centered on an allegation that a non-disparagement agreement that Warren’s staffers were required to sign illegally prevents the campaign staffers from speaking out about workplace violations.
The agreement reportedly prohibits Warren campaign staffers from being able to “make any statement that may impair or adversely affect the goodwill or reputation of the Organization.”
Should the NLRB determine that there is any merit to Legg’s allegation, a government-backed complaint will be filed and a formal investigation opened.
It is unclear exactly how that might play out; although confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements have been broadly falling out of favor in recent years, they nevertheless tend to be viewed as legal and binding by the NLRB.
Another Democrat hypocrite
Warren’s campaign is actually the second Democratic candidate’s campaign to be hit with an NLRB complaint; in July, an unnamed staffer accused the Bernie Sanders campaign of unlawfully retaliating against them during the push to unionize Sanders’ campaign team.
For his part, Legg told Bloomberg that he hopes his complaint will lead to changes in the way that Warren and other candidates manage their campaigns. But while the non-disparagement agreement was his primary focus, Legg is also reportedly looking at Warren’s use of unpaid fellowships for staffers.
The attorney noted that Warren’s reported unpaid fellowship program “is not consistent with everything else Warren says she believes and fights for,” adding: “I hope people think about the substance of the charge rather than my interest” in backing a rival candidate.
Given that Warren has portrayed herself as a sort of champion of the working class, it will be interesting to see how this complaint alleging that she is an oppressive boss who infringes upon the labor rights of her own workers will impact her bid for the White House. Could this mean the end of the road for Elizabeth Warren?