NLRB seeks name of newspaper’s “blind box” advertiser
LOUISIANA–In late October, the National Labor Relations Board asked a federal court in Baton Rouge to order The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, to reveal the name of an advertiser who had purchased a blind box ad in the paper’s classified section.
The NLRB served a subpoena on The Advocate in late April as part of an investigation into allegations of unfair hiring practices by the unidentified company that placed a classified ad in the newspaper. When the paper resisted the subpoena, the NLRB asked the federal court to force it to comply.
Lloyd Lunceford, attorney for The Advocate, said that the newspaper intends to fight the subpoena.
“Our customer insists on confidentiality,” he said. “If anyone can get a court to order newspapers to reveal the names of blind box advertisers, then there’s no point in having them.”
The board is investigating allegations made by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers against whoever placed the blind box ad. According to the allegations, the unidentified advertiser refused to hire union members who applied for the job opening described in the ad.
The board’s action follows in the wake of another, similar subpoena in 1996. In that case, the Evansville (Ind.) Courier, initially resisted a subpoena seeking the identity of a blind box advertiser. However, after a federal magistrate judge found that no reporter’s privilege existed in federal law, the paper complied with the subpoena. Larry Bish, the small electrical contractor who placed the blind box ad in the Courier, later told the Associated Press that union members began harassing him after the newspaper revealed his identity. (National Labor Relations Board v. Capital Cities Press; Media Attorney: Lloyd Lunceford, Baton Rouge)