Does the NLRA apply to nonunion employers?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. If an employer is nonunion, must it abide by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rules and regulations?

A. Yes. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects concerted activity by employees for mutual aid or protection. The NLRB has interpreted this section to extend protection to nonunion employees. Accordingly, an employer can be considered in violation of the NLRA if it prevents nonunion employees from engaging in protected, concerted activity, such as discussing/complaining about wages or working conditions with co-workers.   

For example, in several cases, the NLRB has taken issue with employers’ social media policies, finding that they threatened employees’ exercise of Section 7 rights because, for instance, they prohibited employees from disparaging their employers on social media.

Other neutral policies that may violate nonunion employees’ NLRA rights include:

  • Pay policies and confidentiality agreements that prohibit employees from sharing the amount of their wages with other employees
  • Inconsistent electronic communication practices in which employers permit employees to use email for personal purposes but then subsequently discipline them for discussing matters that are viewed as “concerted” activities.

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