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Author: Mark Goodwin, LeClairRyan
- The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers and unions from engaging in numerous unlawful actions, known as unfair labor practices.
- An employer commits an unfair labor practice if it engages in certain activities, including interfering, restraining or coercing employees in their exercise of their NLRA rights and refusing to bargain in good-faith with a union representative. See Unfair Labor Practices by Employers.
- A union commits an unfair labor practice if it engages in certain activities, including causing an employer to pay for services not to be performed and engaging in a secondary boycott of a neutral employer. See Unfair Labor Practices by Unions.
- When an unfair labor practice charge involves the termination/discipline of an employee or a change in work conditions, the employer's motivation for taking such action is critical in the analysis of the charge. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will take a step-by-step approach in determining whether the employer had an anti-union mindset. See Employer Prohibited from Discriminating to Encourage or Discourage Union.
- The National Labor Relations Act establishes the processes for investigating, prosecuting, hearing, finding, dismissing, remedying and enforcing remedies of unfair labor practices filed with the NLRB. See The Filing and Investigation of a Charge.
- The NLRB will seek immediate and temporary relief against the employer if it believes the effects of the unfair labor practice are so harmful that later relief to the charging party in the normal process would not be effective to remedy the harm. See NLRB Unfair Labor Practice Procedures and NLRB Requests for Injunctions in Federal Court.
- It is the policy of the NLRB to actively encourage settlement of charges of unfair labor practices. There are three types of settlement agreements available to employers. See Settlement of Charges.
- If the charge is not withdrawn, settled or dismissed, a full trial will occur before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge. The judge's decision may be appealed to the full NLRB in Washington, DC. This decision may be further appealed by the charging party or the charged party to the US Court of Appeals. See Trial of the Charge and Appeals.
The following states have additional requirements for this topic under applicable state law.