Administrative Law: Objectives, Functions & Roles

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  • 0:04 Unfair Labor Practices
  • 0:57 Definition
  • 1:51 Purpose
  • 2:50 Functions
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Jankowski

Patricia is an experienced registered nurse who has worked in various acute care areas as well as in legal nurse consulting. She also has a BSChE.

As global populations and economies have expanded, so have government laws regulating them. Administrative law governs the government and ensures that it deals fairly with the public it serves. This lesson will examine administrative law.

Unfair Labor Practices

Nurse Nancy: ''I'm glad you could make it to lunch, Amy. It's good to see you again since we got laid off. Wow, it really makes me mad that now I'm unemployed, just because our nursing home was bought out by some big money-making company! Something ought to be done!''

Nursing Assisant Amy: ''Nancy, haven't you heard? We're getting our jobs back! Not only that, we're getting back pay for the time we missed! Isn't that great?''

Nancy: ''How can that be?''

Amy: ''The new buyer just wanted to bust our union so the union filed an unfair labor practice, and the administrative law judge ruled in our favor! We're back to work next Monday! How about you buy me a drink to celebrate?''

This conversation reflects a case of administrative law, one that came out well and protected members of the public from an unfair labor practice. Let's take a look at administrative law, its purpose, and how it helps those it was designed to protect.


Administrative Law, also sometimes called regulatory or public law, is derived from the executive branch of government. In the U.S., Congress passes laws to carry out the directives of the Constitution. In passing these laws, it often also creates various government agencies to implement those laws. For example, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is a federal agency that was created as a part of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This act stipulates that employees have the right to form unions. Administrative law is the body of law that ensures that agencies like the NLRB carry out their assigned roles. In the introductory example, the administrative law judge reviewed the unfair labor practice that was filed with the NLRB and saw that it violated the National Labor Relations Act. This is how administrative law works: it governs the government agencies and makes sure they do their job.


The main goal of administrative law is to protect the interests of the public as it interacts with government. As citizens, we interact with the government often. If we join a union at our place of employment, we're exercising one of our rights under our government. If we lose our jobs and apply for food stamps or get old and apply for Social Security, we're depending upon our government and its fair and just operation. To whom will we turn to ensure that we get this? We'll seek the help of administrative law.

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), was passed in 1946 and outlines how all those federal government administrative agencies may set things up so that their goals are met. In other words, it specifies how an agency can create and enforce the rules and regulations it needs to get done what it wants to get done. Its goal is to keep the agencies and their work transparent to the public and let the public participate in the rule-making process. It also includes a judicial review process of the administrative decisions.


Administrative law oversees the internal operations of the government agencies and also stipulates how they go about their main functions, which are rule-making and enforcement of the rules they make, or adjudication. Because the agencies have power, administrative law is there to make sure they do not abuse this power.


Government agencies make rules in order to implement their policies; however, under the APA, an agency can't just make a rule that immediately becomes a law. There's a process that must be followed.

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