Friday, June 20, 2014

National Labor Relations Act - Not Just for Unionized Employers!

At a recent Employment Law Update seminar I attended, I was reminded again of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that guides the Board's work.  The thing that the attorney said that stuck with me was that most small and mid-sized employers believe the myth that the NLRB's rules only apply to unionized employers.  What many managers and business owners don't realize is that any employee unionized or not can bring a claim before the NLRB.  He went on to say that the trap most employers fall into is thinking that it is ok to prohibit and therefore discipline employees who talk about wages and benefits with other employees.

The NLRA (the act itself) makes it an unfair labor practice for any and all employer's to prohibit conversation between employees about wages, hours and other conditions of employment.

Most recently the NLRB has sought to file unfair labor practices against those employers who prohibit salary conversations between employees on social media outlets or chat rooms, just like they would if you fired two employees for talking bout their wages in the company break room.

A learning opportunity for a new client of mine came when the results of an employee file audit revealed they had disciplined an employee for sharing salary information with a co-worker.  I told him what I'm telling you here - DON'T DO IT!  Don't prohibit salary conversations in your employee handbook, policy manual or during new employee orientation or staff meetings.  Don't discipline employees when it happens.  In this age of transparency, those who have fair and consistent salary practices in place shouldn't fear their employees who choose to share this information.  If your salary practices aren't consistent or fair - call me, so we can get it fixed and you have nothing to fear.

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