No Christmas Presents for Employers
By: Attorneys Dean R. Dietrich and Davis Runde
Recent actions by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) have given employers several “lumps of coal” as Christmas presents. The NLRB has taken several steps to severely limit the right of employers to address the actions of labor unions or employees exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
In particular, recent decisions by the NLRB have affected the following:
- The NLRB now can award monetary damages to employees who suffer financial impacts from an employer committing a prohibited practice under the NLRA. Examples would be compensating an employee for loss of insurance benefits if decision was based on union animus or reimbursing for cost of destroyed campaign materials. In many instances, the NLRB could find that the employer violated the rights of an individual under the federal law but not award any type of monetary damages. The authority to award some type of financial damages has now been expanded, although the NLRB cannot award damages for pain and suffering or attorney fees, yet.
- Labor unions are now able to organize small departments in a company instead of being required to seek union representation for all employees in the company or in a large department of the company. This right to organize a small unit of employees existed previously but was eliminated by the past Administration’s NLRB Board members. Companies may now face “micro unit” organizing efforts under the revised union election requirements.
- Companies have always had the right to take action against employees who were engaging in union activities while doing such activities on company property. A recent change by the majority of the NLRB has restricted the right of an employer to force employees to engage in union picketing or union recognition activities off of private property owned by the company. It is still unclear how this will all be enforced by the NLRB, but employers are now limited in their ability to control union activities on their private property.
- These changes reflect efforts by the new majority of the NLRB to strengthen employee rights in a unionized setting. Many of these changes also effect non-union settings where employees are looking to form a union. Employers need to be very aware of their limited rights under the NLRA. As always, if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us at 715-839-7786.