HR Support on National Labor Relations Act

Editor's Note: Don't be the next victim: be aware of employee rights under the NLRA!

Melissa BoyceOverview: Just because an employer has a non-unionized workforce does not mean that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not apply. In fact, the NLRA offers protections to most employees, except agricultural laborers, domestic workers, family members, independent contractors and managers/supervisors. Similarly, the NLRA defines employer broadly and applies to all employers except for government organizations and railroads or airlines covered by the Railway Labor Act.

Therefore, it is important for employers to understand that, even absent a union, employees are guaranteed the right to engage in concerted activity to improve their wages, benefits and working conditions and an employer may not terminate them for this activity. In the wake of Facebook and forms of social media communication among employees, this has suddenly become a more prevalent protection for both union and non-union employees.

Trends: Recently the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has heard several cases - cases which did not involve a unionized workforce - and ultimately found that employers' social media policies, at-will disclaimers, and confidentiality of investigation policies violated the NLRA because they infringed upon an employee's right to engage in a protected concerted activity. Essentially, the NLRB is scrutinizing the language of employer policies that may hinder an employee's speech. Almost daily, the NLRB continues to actively pursue these claims against employers - union and non-union alike.

Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

  • NLRB Form 5546 - Request to Block Petition

    Policies and Documents

    As mandated by the National Labor Relations Board, a party to a representation proceeding seeking to file an unfair labor practice charge and block a petition must file this form.

  • Employers May Have to Bargain With Unions Over Response to Employee Data Breaches

    04 May 2015

    In a precedent-setting complaint, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has alleged that the US Postal Service (USPS) violated employees' right to collectively bargain about wages, benefits and working conditions when it failed to collectively bargain with the postal workers union over the response to a data security breach.

  • How to Prepare for Union Representation Elections

    How To

    The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of an employee to organize and form a union in order to address issues regarding wages, hours and working conditions. An employee, even in the absence of a union, also has the right to engage in protected concerted activity- acting on behalf of co-workers or interacting with others for the legitimate furtherance of their common interests.

  • Labor Relations Overview

    Employment Law Manual

    This section helps HR professionals understand the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Railway Labor Act (RLA) and applicable state laws as well as the types of employees and employers covered. It also highlights the National Labor Board and its authority to prevent unfair labor practices and enforce the NLRA.

  • How to Manage Unions When Operating in Both "Right to Work" and "Non-Right to Work" States

    How To

    Employers may assume that all issues relating to union organization and collective bargaining will be governed by the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). However, the fact is that the NLRA has left certain union-related matters up to the states.

  • What is a Right to Work state?


  • Right to Work States

    Quick Reference

    This chart lists the states that have enacted right to work laws, which prohibit the execution or application of agreements requiring membership in a union as a condition of employment.

  • Wage Disclosure Protection Handbook Statement: Minnesota

    Employee Handbooks

    Minnesota employers seeking to inform employees about their rights related to wage disclosure, as well as the limitations on such disclosures, should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Union Organizing Campaigns - Supervisor Briefing

    Supervisor Briefings

    This briefing for supervisors examines the law and best practices for handling a union organizing campaign in the workplace.

  • Solicitation and Distribution Policy

    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this Solicitation and Distribution Policy to manage the solicitation and distribution of information among employees and outsiders, usually in a non-union environment, and to establish guidelines for compliance with the National Labor Relations Act in a completely non-discriminatory manner.