Law and Disorder

Y our rights as a worker: Their rights as an employer

By A.J. Wagner

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires employers to post, in a conspicuous place for employees to see, a notice of rights for workers. The notice tells workers the following:

Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), you have the right to:

• Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.

• Form, join or assist a union.

• Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours and other working conditions.

• Discuss your wages and benefits and other terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union.

• Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency and seeking help from a union.

• Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.

• Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.

Under the NLRA, it is illegal for your employer to:

• Prohibit you from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms.

Under the NLRA, it is illegal for a union or for the union that represents you in bargaining with your employer to:

• Threaten or coerce you in order to gain your support for the union.

• Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity.

• Fire, demote or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection or because you choose not to engage in any such activity.

• Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them.

• Promise or grant promotions, pay raises or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support.

• Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances.

• Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so.

• Refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union officials or because you are not a member of the union.

• Use or maintain discriminatory standards or procedures in making job referrals from a hiring hall.

• Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against you because of your union-related activity.

• Take adverse action against you because you have not joined or do not support the union.

If you and your co-workers select a union to act as your collective bargaining representative, your employer and the union are required to bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a written, binding agreement setting your terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent you in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.

Illegal conduct will not be permitted. If you believe your rights or the rights of others have been violated, you should contact the NLRB promptly to protect your rights, generally within six months of the unlawful activity. You may inquire about possible violations without your employer or anyone else being informed of the inquiry. Charges may be filed by any person and need not be filed by the employee directly affected by the violation. The NLRB may order an employer to rehire a worker fired in violation of the law and to pay lost wages and benefits, and may order an employer or union to cease violating the law. Employees should seek assistance from the nearest regional NLRB office, which can be found on the Agency’s Web site: nlrb.gov.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has now ruled that to make an employer post this statement is a violation of their rights to free speech. The Court cited a quote from Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, Inc.: “Some of [the] Court’s leading First Amendment precedents have established the principle that freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what they must say.”

The ramifications of this ruling, if upheld by the United States Supreme Court, are huge. This decision begs the question of other government requirements such as warnings on cigarette packages, food nutrition labels, allergy warnings, fair debt collection practices warnings, safety notices and so many more.

This decision may be taken up by the United States Supreme Court. Of course, they can’t be forced to say anything on the topic if they so chose.

Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein. 


A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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