The Legal Situation of DNAinfo and Gothamist

A week after DNAinfo and Goathamist unionized, its owner put the two publications out of business entirely. A lot of people have contacted me to ask whether this is legal. I don’t know all the details involved, but it probably is legal.

The key case here is Darlington Mfg. In that case, the NLRB had initially ruled that you cannot shut down a business in retaliation for union activity, but then the Supreme Court overturned that decision:

We hold that so far as the Labor Relations Act is concerned, an employer has the absolute right to terminate his entire business for any reason he pleases…

This rule holds only for completely closing down a business. It is a different story when an employer does a partial closing, a temporary closing, or moves the business elsewhere. In those cases, if the actions are done for retaliatory reasons, they may be illegal. But if a boss just ends the existence of a business altogether, there is no recourse.