September 01, 2022

NLRA’s Protected Activity Goes Well Beyond Union Organizing

You may have read the July 18th article about Captive Audience speeches under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). That dealt with what an employer may/not do when it believes the employees are considering joining a union. On September 1st, there appeared what I think is another great example of how broad non-supervisory employees’ NLRA rights extend. Here’s the scoop.

Let’s say a group of your employees signs a petition addressed to you. They want to meet with you to voice their concerns about their wages (missing or delayed); poor working conditions (hot); and safety issues (lack of equipment). You effectively blow them off, refusing to meet because the complaints are a bunch of lies. OK, you would never do that, but this manager allegedly did so. You tell them to remove their names from the petition or you will consider them to have resigned. The next workday, you lock out the employees whose names are still on the petition and tell them they no longer have a job with you because they quit.

I think (hope!) we can all agree that’s pretty lousy management. But is it unlawful?  These employees say, “Yes!”  I think the National Labor Relations Board might agree.

Remember. Employees’ Section 7 rights under the NLRA include acting in concert for their mutual aid or protection. That may include two or more non-supervisory employees talking with one another about their wages, hours, or other conditions of employment.  Section 8 of the NLRA prohibits employers from interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of those rights.

Tips. Legal issues aside, what better way to maintain positive employee relations than to not just have an open-door policy but to actively participate in it! If you don’t listen to your employees, there are plenty of others who will – plaintiffs’ attorneys; federal, state, and local fair employment practices agencies; and more. As I often say, “Take care of employee relations today, or face labor relations tomorrow.”

Resource: Want or need a primer for your managers and supervisors on NLRA basics?  Check out FiveL Company’s archived webcast, “The NLRA in Today’s Workplace.” $25 pp. Group rates are available. Click here for more information.