Q. A supervisor recently told me that some of my employees are planning to picket outside one of my businesses. Apparently, the picketers plan to block the building’s two exits with their vehicles in addition to picketing. Is this lawful?
A. Picketing in Texas must be done according to specific rules, and blocking a building’s exits is explicitly against those rules.
According to the Texas Labor Code, if any form of picketing activity constitutes or becomes an obstacle “to the free ingress to and egress from an entrance to any premises,” it is unlawful. This obstruction includes any physical method, whether it is with a person’s body, vehicle or some other object.
It is also illegal for any picketer to use insults, threats or obscene language to intimidate or interfere with—or seek to intimidate or interfere with—another person who is attempting to exercise his or her lawful right to work or to enter the premises on the performance of a lawful vocation or freely enter or exit the premises.
The Texas Labor Code also includes provisions that prohibit secondary picketing, making it illegal for a person to “establish, call, participate, or aid picketing at or near the premises of an employer with whom a labor dispute does not exist.”
Any violation of a secondary picketing provision is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of $500 or less, six months or less of confinement in the county jail or both the fine and confinement.