NLRB: Pre-emptive firing to prevent employees from discussing pay and benefits is illegal

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

In both union and nonunion workplaces, it’s illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for engaging in discussions about wages and working conditions. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) extended that right a bit further, saying employers unlawfully interfere with an employee’s rights if they terminate the person in anticipation that he might discuss working conditions with his co-workers in the future.

The case: An employee was fired after complaining to her boss about perceived wage disparity. A lower court ruling said the company didn’t violate the law because the worker hadn’t engaged in “protected activity” (discussing wages with co-workers). But the full NLRB said the company fired the worker as a “pre-emptive strike” to prevent her from discussing wages at a future time. The ruling was 2-1, with the dissenting Republican member calling the finding “unprecedented.” (Parexel, 356 NLRB No. 82)

The lesson: This recent employee-friendly NLRB ruling gives you another reason to stick to the work-related reasons for terminations and avoid retaliating for any reason.

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