ST. LOUIS — The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a finding of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which ruled that a Kansas City Burger King franchise violated the law by refusing to rehire an activist employee who had fought for raising the minimum wage.
In the June 21 ruling, the panel of judges concluded that "substantial evidence" supported the board's finding that EYM King of Missouri, operating as Burger King, refused to hire Terrance Wise because of his participation in protected labor activities.
The board's complaint against the restaurant alleged it violated the National Labor Relations Act in its refusal to hire Wise, according to the ruling.
Wise had been working at various Burger King stores for more than 11 years when in March 2015 EYM King acquired the location he had been working at for three years and others, the ruling states.
EYM King retained the general manager at the 47th Street store it acquired, LaReda Hayes, who rehired most of the workers under the prior ownership, except for Wise, "a well known labor organizer," the ruling states.
Wise had participated in the Workers' Organizing Committee–Kansas City, a group that was vocal about seeking a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, an effort also known as the "Fight for $15."
The ruling says Wise also assisted in bringing other unfair labor practice charges against the store where he worked in May 2014, of which Hayes was aware.
In proceedings before an administrative law judge, Hayes testified that her decision not to re-hire Wise was based on his limited availability, instances of insubordination and a record of tardiness.
But the administrative law judge found that Hayes was not "an overall credible witness" and that her stated reasons for not rehiring Wise "were implausible." The administrative law judge found she was motivated in part by Wise's involvement in protected labor activities, which was affirmed by the NLRB.
"Hayes testified that she declined to hire Wise because of his change in schedule, tardiness, and insubordination," the ruling states. "Substantial evidence supports the Board's determination that these reasons were pretextual."
The appeals panel included Judges Raymond Gruender, Diana Murphy and Jane Kelly.