National Labor Relations Board v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.
United States Supreme Court
421 U.S. 132 (1975)
Under the National Labor Relations Act, any charge that an employer has committed an “unfair labor practice” must originate with a complaint filed with the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB). Congress has delegated to the NLRB General Counsel authority to decide on whether to file a complaint with the labor board. The NRLB has set up procedures to exercise this authority. When a regional director decides not to file a complaint, the complainant can appeal to the Office of General Counsel. The disposition of the appeal (either affirming the regional director’s decision or ordering the regional director to prosecute) is embodied in an Appeals Memorandum. In addition, regional directors can request advice from the Office of General Counsel on whether to file a complaint. In response, the Office of General Counsel sends an Advice Memorandum directing the regional director to file or not file a complaint. On July 14, 1971, Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Sears) (plaintiff) requested by letter pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that the NLRB General Counsel disclose all Advice and Appeals Memoranda issued in the previous five years on a particular issue. The General Counsel refused the request, because Advice Memoranda are guides, not final, and are “intra-agency memorandum” that reflect the thought process of staff and are thus exempt from disclosure under Exemption 5 to the FOIA. Sears filed a complaint in the federal district court. The district court granted Sears’ motion for summary judgment and denied the General Counsel’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed. The NLRB appealed to the Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 170,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.