Tell supervisors: No threats following unfair labor charges

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

It’s understandable that managers and supervisors might get angry if an employee filed unfair labor practice charges against them. But how they respond may mean the difference between a reasonable resolution of the underlying complaint and additional charges—for retaliation and intimidation.

Remind them that they represent the company. Angry calls or implied threats may lead to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charges, too.

Recent case: Bobby Cline works for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and filed an unfair labor charge against his supervisor, Bobby Powers. When Powers found out, he called Cline during the workday to discuss the allegations. During that conversation, Powers told Cline he was going to be sorry for filing the charges, and that he had hired an attorney who was ready to sue Cline.

Cline complained to the NLRB about what he perceived as a threat and retaliation. The NLRB then charged the USPS with labor law violations.

The USPS argued that Powers was acting as an individual, not a supervisor. The NLRB disagreed. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision that Powers was acting as a supervisor when he made the call. (NLRB v. U.S. Postal Service, No. 07-14951, 11th Cir., 2008)

Final note: When you get an unfair labor practice charge, sit down immediately with supervisors and managers and explain how the matter will be handled.

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