Labor Law Update

Beginning January 31, 2012, most private sector employers in the U.S. are required to post an “Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act” poster.  This poster, which is required under a National Labor Relations Board Rule finalized last summer, provides a list of rights that employees are entitled to under the National Labor Relations Act and a list of prohibitions that the Act imposes upon employers and on unions, themselves.
Employee rights described in the poster include the right to:
  • Organize a union to negotiate with the employer;
  • Form, join or assist a union;
  • Bargain collectively;
  • Discuss wages and benefits with fellow employees or a union;
  • Strike and picket depending upon the purpose or means of the picket; and
  • The right to choose not to engage in any of the above activities.
Additionally, the poster reminds employees that it is illegal for their employers to, among other things:
  • Prohibit employees from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time;
  • Question employees about union support or activities in a way that discourages employees from engaging in that activity;
  • Fire, demote, or transfer employees, or reduce their hours or otherwise take adverse action because that employee has joined or supported a union;
  • Threaten to close the employer’s workplace if workers choose a union; and
  • Promise benefits to discourage or encourage union support.
 Finally, the poster lists restrictions on what the union can do.  It cannot:
  • Threaten or coerce an employee in order to gain support for the union;
  • Refuse to process a grievance because an employee criticized union officials or because an employee is not a member of the union; orTake adverse action against an employee because he or she has not joined or does not support the union.

These new posters are required of most private sector employers, whether currently unionized or not.  They must be posted in a conspicuous place, which is already the case for certain other posters that most employers are required to post (minimum wage posters for example).  An employer can find form posters at many places on the internet.  However, the easiest and the official source for the poster is the Board website,  The website advises that you can either print the poster out as one continuous 11 x 17 sheet or as two 8.5 x 11 pages, which can then be taped together.  Posting these will comply with the law.

Additionally, the notice must be provided in both English and in a second language if more than 20% of the employer’s workforce speaks that second language.  To ease this linguistic burden the Board has provided the poster in a wide variety of languages on its website.

While, the Board does not plan on initiating inspections of workplaces regarding the posting of these posters, a Board finding of an “unfair labor practice” may result if an employee or other individual reports the employer to the Board.  While that by itself will not result in a fine or (probably) other serious repercussions, there are other potential consequences.  For example, the Board may look at failure to post the notice as evidence of an “unlawful motive” in other unfair labor practice complaints brought by an employee against the employer, or the Board may view the failure to post as a justification for extending the limitation period during which a claim may be brought.  Again, the Board’s jurisdiction does not stop simply because an employer is not unionized, so failure to comply could have consequences for nearly every private employer.

 Rod FluckPosted in Business / Employment  |  Leave a comment

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