Can we fire employees who collaborated on writing letter complaining about pay cuts? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we fire employees who collaborated on writing letter complaining about pay cuts?

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in Firing,Human Resources

Q. We recently notified employees that we will be cutting pay due to difficult economic times. Then we received an anonymous letter expressing concerns about this decision. It suggested alternatives to pay cuts, such as eliminating our employer 401(k) match. We determined that the letter was written by one employee and edited by another. Can we terminate them?

A. If the employees are not managers, their letter writing likely would be considered concerted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under Section 7 of the NLRA, nonmanagement employees are entitled to join together for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. Because the letter was written by more than one person and addressed terms and conditions of employment, it would be protected concerted activity and any action taken against the employees would be unlawful.

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Megan L. Anderson is an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment Law Practice Group in Minneapolis. Concentrating her practice in employment law counseling and litigation, she ­regularly advises employers and provides training on a variety of employment law issues. Contact her at megan.anderson@gpmlaw.com or (612) 632-3004.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andrea Carroll July 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm

These employees seem to understand their managers very well in this case – they were wise to write anonymously. I’ve been a manager for over 20 years and I’m not sure I understand why you would want to fire them. I agree with them, before taking the drastic measure of cutting pay, did you look at other options? And is management pay also getting cut? How about management perks – those getting cut too?

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