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After Inquiry, NLRB's Emanuel Discloses More Ex-Clients

Law360—Christopher Crosby

Former Littler Mendelson PC shareholder and recent National Labor Relations Board addition William Emanuel has previously represented some of the largest consumer corporations and banks in the country — from Amazon.com to JPMorgan and Wells Fargo — many of which were previously undisclosed during his nomination, according to a list of clients released Tuesday.

The list of 162 clients Emanuel represented while working for Littler Mendelson included the likes of CarMax, Rite Aid, Ikea, Uber and Sysco. Emanuel committed to recusing himself from hearing cases involving his former clients, which were disclosed in a letter sent to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Nov. 21.

Warren on Tuesday criticized Emanuel for failing to make the full extent of his previous work known at the time of his nomination in September, saying the list was “significantly broader” than the one filed during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which only disclosed those who had compensated him more than $5,000 for the past two years. 

"Millions of working families across the country are relying on the National Labor Relations Board to protect their rights to join together and fight for better pay and working conditions, but Mr. Emanuel has spent his career doing the opposite by helping corporations make it harder for workers to join unions," Warren said.

"His clients from the past two years alone include major employers accused of violating workers' rights, many of which will likely come before the board during his tenure. President Donald Trump's decision to nominate Mr. Emanuel was a bad move not just for working families, but also for the NLRB's ability to function smoothly."

In the letter, Emanuel said he would serve as a neutral administrator working in the public’s best interest.

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Last month Warren and mostly Democratic lawmakers called on Emanuel to identify any possible conflicts of interest that could come from his representation of former clients and pledge to recuse himself from cases involving those companies or his previous firm for the next two years, as required by federal ethics rules.

The Senate filled out the NLRB in September when it confirmed Trump’s second pick for the agency, Emanuel, on a 49-47 vote. Republican backers of Emanuel have said he would help restore the balance of the board in future decisions and rulemakings.

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Outten & Golden LLP in September urged the NLRB to block Emanuel from participating in any cases applying its controversial D.R. Horton ruling on collective action waivers. The firm said at the time he has a conflict since he litigated suits that attempted to discredit the board's decision while working for Littler Mendelson.

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The Republican-controlled labor board is expected to roll back several moves made under the Obama administration that business groups have criticized as favoring workers at the expense of employers.