We’ve all read the headlines about workers’ attempts to unionize workplaces at Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, and elsewhere. The law is clear: every employee has a right to participate in a union. It is illegal for any employer to punish or retaliate against employees in any way for engaging in this activity. 

While it can be difficult to determine why your employer let you go, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)protects employees who are subjected to employment discrimination or wrongful termination for their involvement in a union or trying to form one. 

What Does the NLRA Say? 

Under the NLRA, employees have the right to: 

  • Organize a union to negotiate with an employer.
  • Distribute union literature.
  • Wear union buttons or t-shirts. 
  • Ask co-workers to sign union authorization cards.
  • Discuss unionization with co-workers.

Because employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who engages in these activities, employers cannot fire, demote, suspend, or otherwise punish someone for exercising their rights under the NLRA. In addition, employers cannot threaten employees with job loss if they decide to join a union or participate in activities related to forming a union, including organizing or participating in a strike.

The NLRB Process 

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated due to your involvement with a union or because you attempted to organize one, you can file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices and enforcing laws related to labor relations. 

Once you file your complaint, the NLRB will investigate and determine whether your employer committed an unlawful act. If the agency determines an illegal act occurred, then your employer may have to reinstate you back into employment or pay damages for any losses you suffered because of being terminated. 

Examples of Illegal Employer Actions

  • Jane tried to start a union. Upon learning of this activity, management began harassing and intimidating Jane by threatening to reduce her hours or transfer her to another location if she didn’t stop. They also made it clear they would fire her if unionizing attempts continued.
  • John enjoyed his work and was routinely praised, but he was constantly unhappy with his pay and working conditions. He decided to make a change by joining a union and discussed this idea with co-workers. When management found out, they fired John, citing poor work performance. 
  • Bill was vocal about unionizing at work. After some time, his manager got tired of hearing this talk, cut Bill’s hours, and denied all his requests for time off. Bill was also passed over for a promotion despite having more experience than the promoted person. 

Sommers Schwartz Fights for Employee’s Rights

Your employer cannot terminate your employment because of your attempt to unionize. We can help you hold your employer accountable if you’ve been discriminated against, disciplined, terminated, or suffered other adverse consequences at work. Contact a Sommers Schwartz employee rights attorney today to confidentially discuss your case and learn how we can help.

Tad T. Roumayah

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Tad T. Roumayah

Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.