The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining with their employers. They may do this by forming their own union, or by joining an existing union. Employers may not interfere with employees’ organizing activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is responsible for enforcing the law. One part of the agency investigates complaints from workers about alleged violations. Another adjudicates those complaints. Region 22 of the NLRB, based in Newark, New Jersey, filed a complaint against a hospital in late 2021 for alleged NLRA violations. The NLRB’s description of the complaint outlines several examples of conduct prohibited by the statute. If efforts to organize at your workplace for the purposes of collective bargaining are being interfered with, reach out to a New Jersey employment attorney to learn more about your rights.
Section 7 of the NLRA states that employees may engage in activities related to organizing and collective bargaining, as well as “concerted activities for the purpose of…mutual aid or protection”. Employees also have the right to refrain from these activities. Section 8(a) of the statute prohibits various acts by employers, including:
– “[I]nterfer[ing] with…or coerc[ing] employees” with regard to their rights under § 7;
– Interfering with the creation or operation of a labor union;
– Attempting to discourage or encourage union membership among employees, with some exceptions;
– Firing an employee or retaliating against them in other ways for filing a complaint or cooperating with an NLRB proceeding; or
– Refusing to engage in collective bargaining with the employees’ authorized representative.
The NLRB may conduct a hearing to adjudicate a complaint alleging violations of § 8. If it finds that an employer has engaged in unlawful activity, it can award damages to an employee such as back pay. It can also order the employer to reinstate the employee and expunge their records of any unlawful disciplinary actions.
The NLRA’s rather vague language leaves it to the NLRB to interpret how §§ 7 and 8 apply to real-world situations. On its website, the NLRB provides examples of conduct involving interference or coercion by employers, which would violate § 8(a)(1):
– Threatening employees with adverse actions for forming, joining, or supporting a union, or for other “concerted activities”;
– Enticing employees to abandon organizing activities;
– Polling employees to gauge support for a union campaign;
– Interrogating employees about union activities or support; and
– Spying on employees engaged in organizing, or leading employees to believe that they could be spied upon.
The NLRB office in Newark issued a complaint against a hospital on December 6, 2021 alleging violations of § 8(a)(1). The complaint is not available to the public yet, but it is the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request. The NLRB states that it will publish it once it has been redacted. Information about the complaint comes from the NLRB’s Office of Public Affairs.
The hospital allegedly committed several acts prohibited by § 8(a)(1). The NLRB claims that it “unlawfully interrogated employees” about union activities and that it “promised benefits if they abandoned the Union.” The hospital also allegedly hired outside consultants who misrepresented themselves to employees as “neutral government agents,” according to the NLRB. The case has a hearing scheduled for April 2022.
If you are involved in a dispute with your employer in New Jersey or New York, the employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group are available to answer your questions and discuss your legal rights. Please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997 to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can assist you.