If you are a non union employer be afraid – be very afraid. Take a look at the NLRB’s new web page that highlights cases where the Board thought that the activity engaged in by the employee was protected under federal labor law, http://www.nlrb.gov/concerted-activity. The cases involve both union and non-union employers because the concept of protected concerted activity applies across the board. Under the federal labor law (the National Labor Relations Act), an employee has “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Employees also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities. An employer, whether unionized or not, cannot interfere with the employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity.
The NLRB’s web page provides examples of what the Board considers to be an interference of employees’ rights in violation of the federal labor law. Many of the examples involve situations where employees were terminated after complaining about work conditions or wages. Before taking adverse action against an employee, employers should consider the implications of the federal labor law, as well as the other employment law statutes regulating the workplace.