Overview: The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers and unions from engaging in numerous unlawful actions, known as unfair labor practices. Avoiding these unfair labor practices is part of the labor management process.
An employer commits an unfair labor practice if it:
A union commits an unfair labor practice if it:
Neither party can require a clause that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability or any other category protected by law.
If a union or an employer believes that an unfair labor practice has been committed, it must file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRA contains procedures for investigating, prosecuting, hearing, finding, dismissing, remedying and enforcing solutions to unfair labor practices filed with the NLRB.
Trends: All employees are guaranteed the right to engage in protected concerted activity whether or not they belong to a union.
This means they may work together to present an issue to their employer concerning their wages, benefits, or terms and conditions of employment and an employer may not terminate them for this activity. In the new age of social media, this has become an increasingly important protection.
Even though social media postings may be read by persons beyond an individual's co-workers, the posting still may constitute protected concerted activity under the NLRA.
The NLRB has also recently ruled employers may violate the NLRA with an across the board prohibition against the discussion of internal investigations with co-workers. While the need for confidentiality may be paramount (i.e., evidence is at risk of being destroyed or a witness needs protection), employers may now need to argue confidentiality was "necessary."
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect legal developments regarding the state's right to work law.
Updated to reflect the final rule revising and clarifying the standard for joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), effective April 27, 2020.
Updated to reflect provisions of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, effective January 1, 2020.
A new law extends collective bargaining rights, overtime and other labor protections to farm workers in New York.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Ohio employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to unfair labor practices.
Updated to reflect legal developments regarding the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative.
A Silicon Valley software startup has agreed to pay $775,000 to settle an unfair labor practice claim filed by the NLRB on behalf of 15 former software engineers who had sought to organize.
This section helps HR professionals understand the National Labor Relations Board's authority to impose penalties (remedies), including back pay and reinstatement, on employers who violate the National Labor Relations Act. The section also discusses simple steps employers may take to avoid liability.
HR guidance and support on unfair labor practices including interfering with, coercing or restraining employees in the exercise of their NLRA rights.