Thursday, September 14, 2023

Repeat after me: Never, ever, ever ignore court orders

Have you ever heard of a "writ of body attachment?" Me neither, until yesterday. That's when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued one against Timothy and Carley Dillett, two corporate officials of Haven Salon + Spa, and ordered federal marshals to take them into custody.

What did the Dilletts do to earn the ire of a federal appeals court and wind up in custody?

They repeatedly and willfully ignored the NLRB's and the Court's orders.

In 2021, the NLRB held that Haven Salon + Spa violated the National Labor Relations Act by firing an employee for raising concerns about the adequacy of the company's Covid-19 safety protocols during the height of the pandemic. The NLRB's order required Haven Salon + Spa to offer reinstatement to the fired employee, among other relief.

Despite the 7th Circuit enforcing the Board's order later that year, Haven Salon + Spa failed to comply. It also failed to comply after the 7th Circuit held it in contempt pursuant to the NLRB's motion. The NLRB then filed another contempt motion adding the Dilletts as additional respondents and further asking the 7th Circuit to issue the above referenced writ of body attachment. 

In announcing the Dillett's being taken into custody, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said the following: "Employers should be on notice that they can face steep consequences if they continue to skirt the law, including being taken into custody until they comply. Violators of the Act should promptly comply with Board orders in order to quickly remedy their unlawful activities and dissipate the adverse effects that they had upon workers."

No kidding! Administrative and judicial orders mean something. When an agency or a court tells you to do something, you have two options: appeal or comply. That's it. You can't just close your eyes, make a wish, and hope it all goes away. Not only will it not go away, but you very well may find yourself in the same shoes as the Dilletts — in custody pending compliance. 

On the one hand, this is really hard way for someone to learn a lesson. But on the other hand, this really isn't a lesson one should have to learn in the first place.