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Employees Accused Arizona Coyotes Of Union Busting, Failure To Pay Staff [Updated]

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The Arizona Republic uncovered federal records showing that the Arizona Coyotes have been the subject of two investigations by the National Labor Relations Board since October 2016. In the documents are claims that the Coyotes failed to properly pay its employees, spied on employees, threatened them when they tried to unionize, and retaliated against employees who complained.

The first NLRB charge, filed on Oct. 19, 2016, was withdrawn in February after the Coyotes and the employee reached a private agreement. From the charge document, the Coyotes are accused of the following:

Issuing discipline and discharging its employee (name redacted) because (they) concertedly complained on behalf of other employees regarding the Employer failing to properly pay its employees. The above-named Employer also maintained overly-broad and discriminatory rules, including but not limited to, overly-broad and discriminatory rules in its Employee handbook and severance agreement.


And, from the same charge, an amended document filed in December added to the list of violations to include actions taken against potential unionizing and potential surveillance of employees.

(1) Creating the impression that its employees’ protected, concerted activities were under surveillance; (2) promulgating overly-broad and discriminatory directives prohibiting its employees from engaging in concerted activities; (3) threatening its employees with unspecified reprisals because they engaged in concerted activities.

The second charge, filed on June 29, 2017, is still listed as active. A lawsuit filed on June 16 against the Coyotes by James Whitener, who worked in ticket sales for the team from September 2011 until May 2017, implies that Whitener also filed the second NLRB charge. That lawsuit was settled in September, separate from the NLRB investigation. The suit says that Whitener worked overtime for the Coyotes without compensation, as the team purposely avoided having to pay him. From Whitener’s suit, here is the list of violations:

a) willfully failing to record all time that Plaintiff has worked for the benefit of Defendant;

b) willfully failing to keep records as required by the (Fair Labor Standards Act)

c) willfully misclassifying Plaintiff as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA

d) willfully failing to pay Plaintiff overtime wages for hours he worked in excess of 40 hours per week.


The Coyotes, who deny the allegations, have consistently been the NHL’s number-one candidate for relocation. They moved in 1996 to Arizona from Winnipeg and filed for bankruptcy in 2009. With their current lease on a year-to-year basis, the team has claimed that they would need hundreds of millions in public money for a new arena in order to stay in Arizona.

The first charge, via the Republic, is below, as is the federal lawsuit filed by Whitener against the Coyotes. We’ve sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the NLRB for the entirety of the second charge.


Update (12/19/17, 5:53 p.m. ET): The case file for the second charge, which is still open, is now embedded below as well. The name of the employee was redacted by the NLRB, but the charge specifically accuses the team of firing an employee for the following:

Engaging in concerted activities with other employees for the purposes of mutual aid and protection, and concertedly complained to Respondent about wages, hours, and working conditions, by raising concerns with other employees and with Respondent about supervision, training, communications with employees, wages, benefits,and other terms and conditions of employment.


Correction (10:34 a.m. ET, Nov. 16): This post has been updated to distinguish between an NLRB “charge,” which is filed by an aggrieved employee, and a “complaint,” which the NLRB files if it believes the charge has merit.


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