Articles Posted in NLRB Decisions

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects workers’ rights to organize themselves and engage in collective bargaining. Employers may not interfere with employee activities related to self-organization. Once employees have chosen to join a union or form one of their own, employers must negotiate in good faith with union representatives. Both federal and New Jersey employment laws state that employers may not retaliate against employees who participate in union organizing or various other legally-protected activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigates complaints about alleged violations of the NLRA. It also adjudicates disputes arising from many complaints. A recent NLRB ruling found that a New Jersey employer violated two provisions of the NLRA related to interference with organizing and refusal to negotiate.

Section 8 of the NLRA identifies “unfair labor practices” by employers and unions. Under § 8(a)(1), an employer violates the NLRA if it “interfere[s] with, restrain[s], or coerce[s] employees” with regard to their rights to engage in organizing. An employer violates § 8(a)(5) if it “refuse[s] to bargain collectively with the [employees’] representatives.” Employees may file complaints with the NLRB alleging violations of these and other provisions. The NLRB’s General Counsel (GC) may bring administrative cases against employers. These cases may go before an administrative law judge (ALJ), followed by review by a panel of NLRB members.

The case before the NLRB originated with efforts to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in 2018. The union represented about 165 employees at a facility in Annandale, New Jersey. It had filed unfair labor practice charges against the employer in 2016 and 2017 over disputes related to policies for personal time off and Paid Parental Time Off (PPTO). The employer reportedly revoked supervisors’ discretion over requests for personal time off, which the union claimed was in retaliation for an earlier complaint. A new policy initiated in 2017 gave eight weeks PPTO to non-union members, and none to union members. The union’s charges resulted in either dismissals or settlements.
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Employers’ workplace policies must comply with New Jersey employment laws. This includes federal laws passed by Congress and state laws passed by the New Jersey Legislature. At the federal level, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects workers’ rights to engage in organizing activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adjudicates complaints from employees that allege violations of their rights. When an employment policy interferes with workers’ ability to organize themselves, the employer might be in violation of the NLRA. An August 2023 decision from the NLRB revises the standards that it uses to assess whether a particular policy or rule infringes on employees’ rights. It reverses a standard put in place in 2017 and reinstates an earlier standard with some modifications.

Workers have the right under § 7 of the NLRA to organize themselves in order to form or join unions. By organizing in this way, workers gain greater leverage in negotiations with their employers through a process known as collective bargaining. Employers violate the NLRA when they interfere with efforts to organize or engage in other activities intended to promote workers’ interests. Violations of these rights are possible even without obvious intent on the part of an employer. Policies or rules that appear neutral can still be unlawful in certain situations.

In 2017, the NLRB issued a ruling that established a standard for evaluating employment policies that remained in place until the recent decision. The 2017 standard gave greater leeway to employers than the standard it replaced. It identified three categories of employment policies, based on the level of scrutiny that it would apply:
– Category 1: Rules that are lawful, either because they generally do not interfere with workers’ rights or they serve a purpose whose important outweighs the possible impact on workers.
– Category 2: Rules that the NLRB assesses on a case-by-case basis to balance the extent of any NLRA violations against possible business justifications.
– Category 3: Rules that unambiguously infringe on workers’ rights.
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For far too many workers in New Jersey and throughout the country, employment can be uncertain or even precarious. Decisions made by employers far above an employee’s level can lead to them being out of a job through no fault of their own. New Jersey employment laws protect against wrongful termination, such as a decision to fire someone because of a protected category like race or religion, or termination in retaliation for legally protected activity. State and federal laws do not prohibit employers from laying workers off for non-discriminatory or retaliatory reasons, but they might set some limits. In the case of certain mass layoffs, for example, employers must provide advance notice and severance pay. Many collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) also contain provisions requiring negotiation prior to plant closures. Federal labor law requires employers to negotiate with authorized unions in accordance with their CBAs. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which enforces the main federal labor statute, recently ruled that an employer violated the law by closing a facility and laying employees off without notifying the union.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from interfering with workers’ rights, as defined by § 7 of the statute, to engage in various protected activities. This includes organizing themselves for the purpose of collective bargaining, as well as other activities related to promoting employees’ well-being. The statute identifies a range of “unfair labor practices.” Many involve actions taken by employers, while others involve refusals to act.

Once a union has met the NLRA’s requirements for becoming the authorized representative of a group of employees, the employer must negotiate with that union in good faith. Section 8(a)(5) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to refuse to participate in collective bargaining with its employees’ representative. Under § 9(a) of the NLRA, the union is the employees’ “exclusive representative,” in most situations, with regard to negotiations with management for “rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of employment.” This often includes negotiation over decisions that could lead to employee layoffs, such as the closure of a plant or other facility. The union has the right to negotiate regarding the terms and effects of these kinds of decisions.
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The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects a wide range of workplace rights. New Jersey employment laws also address labor organizing, but the NLRA offers broad protections nationwide. Decisions from federal courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have clarified how workers may exercise their rights to organize themselves and engage in collective bargaining with their employers, as well as what employers may and may not do. In May 2023, the NLRB issued a ruling that made rather sweeping changes to the manner in which employers may discipline employees who are engaged in protected activities. The decision overturns a 2020 NLRB decision which also made sweeping changes. In that sense, the May 2023 decision reinstates rules and standards that had been in place for decades. The end result is greater protection for workers engaged in labor organizing.

Section 7 of the NLRA provides a brief but expansive list of rights enjoyed by workers in New Jersey and throughout the country. The list of prohibited acts by employers found in § 8(a) of the statute is similarly short on details. Section 8(a)(1), for example, merely states that employers may not “interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees” with regard to the rights protected by § 7. Decades of decisions from the NLRB have provided practical details about how the NLRA protects workers.

The May 1, 2023 decision involves an employee who was discharged by their employer for alleged “abusive conduct.” The employee claimed that the discharge violated the NLRA since they were engaged in activities protected by § 7 at the time. The NLRB ruled in favor of the employee in May 2020. It held at the time that the employer violated §§ 8(a)(1) and (3). The employer appealed to a Circuit Court of Appeals. While the case was pending in that court, the NLRB issued a ruling in an unrelated case in July 2020 that made significant changes.
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Workers have the right to organize themselves in order to bargain collectively with their employers and advocate for better working conditions. Federal and New Jersey employment laws protect these rights and prohibit employers from interfering with or retaliating against employees who are engaged in lawful activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adjudicates disputes over alleged violations of federal labor laws. In February 2023, it issued a ruling that invalidates a non-disparagement clause that an employer included in severance agreements for a group of employees it had just laid off. The NLRB found that the employer could not require workers to waive such a large number of legal rights. The following month, the NLRB’s General Counsel (GC) issued a memorandum providing guidance to NLRB directors and officers on how to implement this decision.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) identifies a broad range of rights enjoyed by workers. This includes “the right to self-organization” and to join or form a labor union for the purpose of collective bargaining. The section also states that workers have the right to engage in “other concerted activities for the purpose of…mutual aid or protection.” The NLRB and the courts have interpreted this as providing rather broad protection of workers’ right to communicate among themselves and with others about various features of employment, such as working conditions and wages.

The case recently before the NLRB involved a hospital and a union representing various service employees. The hospital furloughed numerous employees at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It made the temporary furlough permanent for eleven union members later that year. Each of these employees received a “Severance Agreement, Waiver and Release” that offered a severance package in exchange for their signature. According to the NLRB’s ruling, the hospital did not inform the union of the furloughs or the severance agreements.
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New Jersey employment laws safeguard a wide range of rights for employees, including the right to a minimum wage and overtime compensation, a workplace free from unlawful discrimination, and the ability to organize and negotiate collectively for better working conditions. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a federal law that protects employees’ rights to self-organization and collective bargaining. It prohibits both employers and unions for coercing employees or interfering with their lawful activities. If an employer has allegedly violated its employees’ rights under the statute, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has the authority to seek a temporary injunction blocking the employer’s alleged actions. A federal district court in New Jersey granted this type of injunction to the NLRB in late 2022.

The NLRA broadly protects workers’ rights to form or join unions. It prohibits a variety of unfair labor practices by both employers and unions. Employers violate the statute if they interfere with lawful employee actions or discriminate against employees because of organizing activity. The statute also imposes affirmative duties on employers. Once employees have chosen a union to represent them in contract negotiations, § 8(a)(5) of the NLRA makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to refuse to negotiate with an authorized union representative.

The General Counsel (GC) of the NLRB can bring an administrative action against an employer or union for alleged NLRA violations. If the GC and the employer cannot reach a settlement, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will hear the case and render a decision. The members of the Board may hear appeals of ALJ decisions. From there, it may be possible to appeal a decision in the federal court system. One provision of the NLRA, however, allows the NLRB to seek relief from a federal court while a case is pending.
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Many of the features that we take for granted in the modern workplace are the result of labor organizing that occurred decades ago. The forty-hour work week and eight-hour work day are examples of benefits that labor unions achieved not only for their own members but for workers across the country. New Jersey employment laws regulate minimum wage and overtime pay thanks to the work of unions. Partly in recognition of the important role labor organizing plays in protecting workers’ rights, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in the 1930s. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has the authority to adjudicate disputes involving alleged interference with organizing activities and other unlawful acts. Two recent NLRB decisions involving disputes arising in New Jersey demonstrate the NLRA’s importance for worker protection.

From workers’ point of view, the two most important provisions of the NLRA are probably § 7 and § 8(a). Section 7 broadly identifies workers’ protected rights, including self-organization and collective bargaining. Section 8(a) defines unfair labor practices by employers. These may include:
– Interfering with workers’ attempts to organize themselves;
– Preventing workers from forming or joining a union;
– Discriminating against employees because of protected union activities; and
– Refusing to engage in collective bargaining with employees’ lawfully chosen representatives.

The NLRB has the authority to investigate alleged violations of workers’ rights. The General Counsel of the NLRB may pursue a claim against an employer before an administrative law judge (ALJ). A party before an ALJ may appeal the ALJ’s decision to the full NLRB. Remedies for aggrieved workers may include back pay and reinstatement to a former position. The NLRB may also order an employer to cease and desist from further violations and to revise its employment policies and practices.
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The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of employees to engage in activities related to organizing for the purposes of collective bargaining with their employers. It prohibits employers from interfering with or restraining these activities. Once employees have formed or joined a union and designated it as their authorized representative, the NLRA requires their employer to negotiate with the union regarding issues affecting member employees. An employer violates the NLRA if it deals with represented employees directly rather than through the union. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently affirmed a ruling finding that an employer violated the NLRA by communicating with employees without notifying the union. If your employer is in discussions with individual employees rather than the union that represents them, reach out to a New Jersey employment lawyer to discuss the situation.

When a majority of employees within a particular unit select a representative for the purposes of collective bargaining, § 9(a) of the NLRA states that this will be those employees’ exclusive representative. A “unit,” according to § 9(b), could consist of all employees in a company, in a division of a company, at a particular plant or facility, or in other groups or divisions. Section 8(a)(5) of the NLRA states that an employer engages in an “unfair labor practice” when it refuses to negotiate with employees’ exclusive representative, as designated under § 9(a).

The NLRB’s interpretation of §8(a)(5) draws on a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals from 1969, in which the court deal with a situation where an employer attempted “​​to deal with the Union through the employees, rather than with the employees through the Union.” The NLRB has developed a three-part test for identifying situations in which an employer dealt directly with employees in violation of § 8(a)(5):
1. The employer “communicate[d] directly with union-represented employees.”
2. The purpose of the communication was to “establish[] or chang[e] wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment,” or to “undercut[] the union’s role in bargaining.”
3. The employer excluded the union from the communication.
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Federal labor law protects workers’ rights to organize themselves in order to engage in collective bargaining and advocate for their interests. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) identifies these rights and prohibits employers from interfering with employees who are engaged in protected activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adjudicates allegations of unlawful actions by employers and labor unions. Recently, a panel of the NLRB in New Jersey ruled in a case that alleged numerous NLRA violations by an employer, including refusing to negotiate with its employees’ authorized representative and firing multiple employees because of their union activities. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found that the employer violated multiple provisions of the NLRA. The NLRB panel affirmed the ruling, with some modifications. If you are involved in a labor dispute, contact a New Jersey employment lawyer today to learn more about your rights.

Workers have the right to “self-organization” under the NLRA. They may engage in activities directed towards organizing themselves to join or form a union, along with other activities related to “collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Section 8(a) of the statute identifies prohibited “unfair labor practices by employer[s].” These include interfering with protected activities by employees, discriminating on the basis of union membership or organizing activities, and refusing to participate in collective bargaining with authorized union representatives. Workers may report alleged violations to the NLRB.

The employer in the recent NLRB decision operates a hotel in North Bergen, New Jersey. According to the ALJ’s opinion, it entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its employees’ union in 2011. The CBA expired in 2015, but the employer and the union had not been able to agree to a new CBA. As of the date of the ALJ’s ruling in late 2021, the 2011 CBA remained the most recent agreement between the two.
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Federal law protects workers’ rights to organize themselves and engage in collective bargaining with their employers. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from interfering with these rights. It also authorizes the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate alleged violations, rule on complaints, and award remedies like back pay and reinstatement to employees. The NLRB recently issued a ruling in an ongoing New Jersey employment dispute. The employer had raised objections to various details of an order awarding back pay to several former employees. The NLRB’s ruling generally goes in the employees’ favor.

Section 8(a) of the NLRA prohibits “unfair labor practices” by employers, such as interfering with protected activities described in § 7 or discriminating against employees on the basis of their involvement in protected activities. The NLRB has the authority under § 10 “​​to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice…affecting commerce.” It may serve complaints on employers based on charges received from workers, and conduct proceedings to determine whether an employer has violated the NLRA. Remedies may include reinstatement of any employee who was not dismissed for cause, along with back pay.

The case that was recently before the NLRB began with charges filed by several employees of a New Jersey nursing center in 2011 and 2012. The employees, who are licensed practical nurses (LPNs), alleged that the employer retaliated against them for their union-related activities by eliminating LPN positions and replacing them with other nurses. In 2016, the NLRB ruled that the employer’s actions violated § 8(a). It ordered the employer to offer reinstatement to the employees and awarded them back pay. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order in 2018.
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