How Does the NLRB Protect My Rights as an Employee?

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was created by Congress in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to end harmful private sector management and labor practices. The National Labor Relations Board was created under the NLRA to implement its policies.

The NLRA encourages parties to resolve cases by settlement rather than litigation whenever possible.

Today, the NLRB helps safeguard employees’ rights to organize, to determine whether or not they will have unions, and to help prevent unfair labor practices. If you are an employee covered by the NLRA and you believe your rights have been violated, the NLRB can help protect you.

Who is covered?

Only a few groups of employees are not covered, such as domestic workers, government employees, independent contractors, and farm workers. Confidential employees, such as company lawyers, and certain industry group employees, such as railroad workers, are also not covered as their work situations are regulated by other laws. Managers and supervisors are also not protected by the NLRA and NLRB; these employees are considered part of company management and not the labor force. Otherwise, if you work in the private sector in the United States, it is highly likely that your employment falls under the scope of the NLRA and NLRB.

More about the NLRA

Under the NLRA, employers cannot interfere with or restrain employees who are exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively. Also as per the NLRA, employers cannot interfere with the formation of labor unions or contribute funds to support them. Employers may not encourage or discourage membership, discharge or discriminate against employees who have filed charges under the NLRA, or refuse to bargain collectively with employees’ elected representative. The NLRA also protects workers’ rights to decide not to take part in union activities.

The NLRA provides the legal framework for private-sector employees to organize bargaining units in their workplace, and it mandates that employers and unions negotiate fairly and amicably. The intention of negotiations is to agree on contracts that detail the terms and conditions of employment for workers who are members of a union.

Filing charges with the NLRB

The NLRB enforces all the provisions of the NLRA, including investigating charges alleging unfair labor practices filed by employees, union representatives, and employers. The NLRB encourages parties to resolve cases by settlement rather than litigation whenever possible. While the majority of parties comply with the orders of the NLRB, some do not. In those cases, the NLRB’s general counsel seeks enforcement action from the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

As an employee, you can take action against your employer or a union over violations of fair labor practices. Charges can be filed with your local office of the NLRB. Before filing, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney as there are complexities and nuances to local, state, and federal labor laws.

Next step

At Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, located in Buffalo, the firm’s experienced attorneys are well-versed in representing clients in matters related to the NLRA, and we have achieved noteworthy results on our clients’ behalf. As a loyal partner to the labor movement for over 50 years, the firm’s attorneys have deep roots in this area of law. Many of our firm’s attorneys have been named to Best Lawyers in America for Labor Law-Union, Employment Law, and Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law. Lipsitz Green is widely recognized as one of the top firms in Western New York and beyond in labor and employment law.

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.