The term “precedent” refers to the case law authority cited in support of an argument or a ruling in a subsequent case involving similar or analogous facts and issues.
An Adjudged case or decision of a court, considered as furnishing an example or authority for an identical or similar case afterwards arising on a similar question of law.
The Supreme Court of Florida in Ward v. Baskin, 94 So. 2d 859, 860 (Fla. 1957), recognized that “the law is not a mathematically exact science.” When defining the term “precedent,” Black’s Law Dictionary states that “for one decision to be an authority for another [requires] that the facts are alike, or, if the facts are different, that that the principle which governed the first is applicable to the variant facts.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Black’s Law Dictionary, supra. The law is not, as noted, an exact science.
Arnaudo Brothers v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board, 14 Cal. App. 5th 22 (2017)
In addition, the Board’s leeway in interpreting the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is subject to an express statutory limitation. Section 1148 states that the Board “shall follow applicable precedents of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended.”
First, the term “precedent” covers both judicial and administrative decisions. (Gould, Some Reflections on Contemporary Issues in California Farm Labor (2017) 50 U.C. Davis L.Rev. 1243, 1245, fn. 5) Thus, “precedent” may be established by the United States Supreme Court, federal appellate courts or the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). (See Highland Ranch v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1981) 29 Cal.3d 848, 855 [traditionally, the court would “look to established administrative and judicial interpretations of the federal act as persuasive indicants of the appropriate interpretation of the state legislation”].) However, “precedent” does not include any rule of practice or procedure adopted by the federal agency. (Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. v. Superior Court (1976) 16 Cal.3d 392, 412.)
Second, as to whether or not a precedent is “applicable” for purposes of section 1148, our Supreme Court has stated that, “under certain circumstances, the board may diverge from federal precedents if the particular problems of labor relations within the agricultural context justify such treatment.” (Triple E Produce Corp. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1983) 35 Cal.3d 42, 48.)