BE&K Constr. Co. v. NLRB, 536 U.S. 516, 21 (2002)

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536

BE&K CONSTR. CO. v. NLRB

Opinion of the Court

thereby avoiding the First Amendment question altogether, id., at 588.

Here, the relevant NLRA provision is 8(a)(1), 29 U. S. C. 158(a)(1), which prohibits employers from "interfer[ing] with, restrain[ing], or coerc[ing] employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in [29 U. S. C. ]157." Section 157 provides, in relevant part:

"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection . . . ."

Section 158(a)(1)'s prohibition on interfering, restraining, or coercing in connection with the above rights is facially as broad as the prohibition at issue in DeBartolo. And while it might be read to reach the entire class of suits the Board has deemed retaliatory, it need not be read so broadly. Indeed, even considered in context, there is no suggestion that these provisions were part of any effort to cover that class of suits. See 158(a)(2)-(5) (generally prohibiting employers from interfering with the formation and administration of a union, from discriminating in employment practices based on union membership, from discharging employees who provide testimony or file charges under the NLRA, and from refusing to bargain collectively with employee representatives).

Because there is nothing in the statutory text indicating that 158(a)(1) must be read to reach all reasonably based but unsuccessful suits filed with a retaliatory purpose, we decline to do so. Because the Board's standard for imposing liability under the NLRA allows it to penalize such suits, its standard is thus invalid. We do not decide whether the Board may declare unlawful any unsuccessful but reasonably based suits that would not have been filed but for a motive to impose the costs of the litigation process, regardless of the

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