HR Tip of the Week

HR Tip of the Week

NLRB Scales Back Employee Protections

The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled to limit the definition of ‘protected, concerted activity’, which historically protects individual employees trying to encourage group action. Section 7 of the act establishes the right of employees to engage in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection and defines how employees are protected when inquiring about changes in conditions of their employment. The ruling was done in favor of employers to separate cases of “individual complaints” from actions taken by an individual to encourage group action…

The following circumstances provide evidence that an employee is engaging in concerted activity, as outlined by the NLRB:

  • The statement was made in an employee meeting called by the employer to announce a decision affecting wages, hours, or some other term or condition of employment.
  • The decision that was announced affected multiple employees attending the meeting.
  • The employee who spoke up in response to the announcement did so to complain about the decision, not merely ask questions about how the decision would be implemented.
  • The speaker protested the decision’s effect on the workforce, not solely its impact on the speaker.
  • The meeting presented the first opportunity employees had to address the decision.

Not all five factors need to be present to support an inference that an employee is seeking to bring about group action, the NLRB noted.

Employers should remain aware of NRLB protections, particularly when an employee speaks up during meetings where terms and conditions of employment, such as work hours, benefits, break policies and wages are being changed, and when considering disciplinary actions for employees in such cases. Read more.


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