NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) Watch – Section 7 Issues in the New Year

If your employees are not unionized – and for the vast majority of employers in North Carolina, that is the case – can you discipline them if they stop working? If Joe refuses to work because he doesn’t like his latest work assignment, it might be considered insubordination; but if Joe, Mary and Al have a complaint about working conditions, they don’t have to be members of a union to conduct a protected strike.  The National Labor Relations Board recently decided that a group called OUR Walmart was protected under the NLRA when they coordinated a set of strikes.  The Administrative Law Judge who wrote the opinion ordered Walmart to put terminated employees back to work with back pay, and expunge disciplinary actions due to the strikes.

In addition just before the end of the year, Whole Foods Market had two employee policies struck down in relation to Section 7. The prohibition of the use of any recording device in conversations among individuals, especially when confidential or sensitive issues are being discussed; and the prohibition of audio/video recording devices in company meetings.

Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees employees “The right to self-organization…for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” And then in Section 8(a)(1), it is an unfair labor practice for you as an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7.”

Whether you have 6 employees or 600, don’t be caught in a lawsuit over workplace rules and employee rights. If you are not up to date with the latest NLRB and NLRA rules or have any question about workplace rules and the rights of your employees, contact Beth Langley at blangley@haganbarrett.com