How Does the NLRA Affect Texas Businesses?

Labor unions may not be as common here in Texas as they are in other states, but they do exist here.  And regardless of the existence of a labor union, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to almost all employers in our state.  So even though Texas is a right-to-work state, employers still need to keep abreast of rules and periodic guidance issued by the National Labor Relations Board.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)  not only gives workers the right for form and join labor unions, but also to engage in certain protected, concerted activity designed to address their working conditions and workplaces.  The NLRA applies to all private businesses, even non-union employers, and the National Labor Relations Board’s guidance affects all private companies. Only government employers are not subject to the NLRA.

The NLRA makes it illegal for private-sector employers to deny employment based on labor union membership. If an employee wants to join one or does not wish to join one, the decision is theirs alone. An employer cannot influence them to do one or the other. An employee cannot be prohibited from joining or paying union dues as a condition of employment. They also cannot be denied employment because they have joined a union or because they have “pro-union sympathies.”

The NLRA also includes provisions designed to preserve employees’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity.”  Protected concerted activity may mean meeting to talk about working conditions, hours, benefits, wages, and the other types of issues that labor unions would often take up for discussion.  It may also mean complaining about your job on social media or wearing a T-shirt that says something derogatory about your employer.  There is no precise definition of what a protected concerted activity is, so a court may have the final decision on which activities are and are not protected.

Examples of NLRA Violations

Employers can violate NLRA law in various ways.  Examples of how an employer might run afoul of the NLRA include:

  • Threatening employees with termination or loss of benefits if they join a union or engage in other protected activity.
  • Punishing employees who join a union by laying them off, terminating them, or assigning them more difficult work tasks.
  • Promising raises, promotions, or other benefits to employees to dissuade them from joining a union.
  • Questioning employees about their union activities in order to interfere with their NLRA rights.
  • Threatening to close a work facility if employees choose union representation.
  • Firing a worker for discussing their pay with other employees.
  • Surveilling or recording union activities/gatherings or pretending to do so.
  • Firing or disciplining employees for posting about work or their employer on social media.
  • Retaliating against an employee for asserting their workplace rights under the NLRA.

Labor organizations can also violate the law if they:

  • Coerce employees to support the union or else they will lose their job.
  • Punish an employee in other ways for not being a union member.
  • Fine employees (who have resigned from the union) for engaging in protected concerted activity.
  • Refuse to process a grievance because the employee has criticized union officials.
  • Engage in picket line misconduct, such as threatening or assaulting non-strikers.
  • Strike over issues unrelated to employment terms and conditions.

What Happens if a Company Violates the NLRA?

An employer that violates the conditions of the NLRA can face charges, which can be filed by anyone, not just the affected employee.  Once the National Labor Relations Board is made aware of a violation, it can take several actions. It may order an employer to rehire a worker if the employee was fired in violation of the law. The employee may be entitled to lost wages and benefits. In addition, the employer or union must stop violating the law.

Contact Our Frisco Employment Law Attorneys Today

As an employer, it can be tough to stay in compliance with the NLRA when you’re not sure exactly which activities are protected.  On top of that, NLRB rules seem to change with presidential administrations.

When you need help, the Frisco employment lawyers at Simon | Paschal PLLC can help you stay navigate and remain in compliance with the NLRA.  Call (972) 893-9340 for a consultation or contact us today.

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