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NLRB has subpoena power to discover blind-box advertisers

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NLRB has subpoena power to discover blind-box advertisers 12/01/97 CALIFORNIA--In mid-November a federal appellate court in San Francisco ruled that…

NLRB has subpoena power to discover blind-box advertisers

12/01/97

CALIFORNIA–In mid-November a federal appellate court in San Francisco ruled that the National Labor Relations Board has the authority to issue subpoenas ordering newspapers to reveal the identities of blind box advertisers.

The appellate court’s decision requires The Bakersfield Californian to comply with a subpoena issued by the NLRB seeking the identity of a blind box advertiser whom members of an electricians’ union accused of unfair hiring practices.

Writing for the court, Judge Pamela Ann Rymer stated that the only issue decided on appeal was whether or not federal law gave the NLRB authority to serve subpoenas on third parties, such as newspapers. Thus the appellate court rejected the conclusion of a federal district court in Sacramento, Calif., that an anonymous advertiser’s rejection of a few union members who apply for a job did not in itself create a sufficient inference of illegal conduct to justify the subpoena issued to the newspaper.

Rymer also noted that the newspaper made no showing that the subpoena was overbroad or unduly burdensome. The court did not discuss whether or not a journalist’s privilege would apply to blind box advertisers. (National Labor Relations Board v. The Bakersfield Californian; Media Counsel: David Durham, San Francisco)