National Labor Relations Act

Rob Wiley: My name is Rob Wiley, and today I'm going to be speaking with Austin employment lawyer, Colin Walsh, about employees who engage in activity together in the workplace and the National Labor Relations Act. So, Colin, Facebook. An employee posts something on Facebook that says, I don't like my supervisor or we ought to be paid more money, or we should have a better health plan. And the employer finds out about it and fires that employee. Is there a remedy? Is there something that the employee can do?

Colin Walsh: They could take action under the National Labor Relations Act for, if any kind of retaliation occurs because of these group meetings.

Rob Wiley: Well, you have those group meetings and, of course, you might see a gay and lesbian employee group saying, we want this employer to adopt a nondiscrimination policy. You might see a bible study group asking for a religious accommodation. Those, those kinds of activities might be protected under other laws, but they're certainly protected under the National Labor Relations Act, as well. When you have groups of employees that are coming together to ask for better terms and conditions of their employment or to make common grievances that's going to be actionable. And, it just happens that as technology improves, I think we will see more and more instances of people using tools like Facebook and, group chats and group messages to ban together. And, that kind of activity is protected. What does the National Labor Relations Act do?

Colin Walsh: That protects concerted activity, which is activity where a group of employees engage to discuss working conditions.

Rob Wiley: And, I think this is an example of a very old law that we suddenly see have new life in it because of changes that we have in technology and, and society. This law has always protected, uh, employees who are coming together, whether it's in the context of a union or whether it's just in the context of getting together as a group of employees and wanting to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. But, now that we have Facebook and Twitter, uh, and these kinds of things, employees are using technology to do this. It's public. Employers are seeing it, and it is not uncommon, uh, for employers to turn around and fire somebody. But, that's a very important right that employees have, which is to take concerted activity. And, so if someone gets fired because of taking a stand on behalf of themselves and other employees, there are real rights at issue and there really is something that can be done. But, this isn't only the technology area. We, we've seen employees now that get together. Say there's a gay and lesbian group or there's a bible study group are those kinds of groups covered under the National Labor Relations Act?

Colin Walsh: Yes. Those kinds of groups would be covered.

Rob Wiley: And, so what does that mean that they could do?

Colin Walsh: Again, they could take action under the National Labor Relations Act, or if any kind've retaliation occurs because of these group meetings.

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