Employee Rights Under NLRA

The NLRA does not directly affect employment outcomes, but provides employees with a means of acting in their own interest to improve their terms and conditions of employment. The fundamental rights conferred by the NLRA (often termed Section 7 rights) include the right to do the following or refrain from such activities. The self-organization and concerted activity protected by the NLRA is broadly construed. Concerted or group activity is not confined to formal collective bar-gaining conducted by unions.

Instead, any efforts by employees to join together for mutual aid or protection can qualify as protected concerted activity—even if those employees are not represented by a union or attempting to form one. In general, conduct must be engaged in with or on the authority of other employees and not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself to be concerted. Evidence of group activity—such as discussions among employees or the delegation of an employee to speak with management—is generally necessary to demonstrate that activity is concerted.

However, for unionized employees, a complaint that relates to enforcement of rights under a labor agreement is concerted activity even if it is raised only by an individual because it affects all employees covered in the agreement. The NLRA is also violated when an employer terminates an employee to prevent that employee from exercising her right to engage in concerted activity (the “preemptive strike” theory). To receive protection, an employee’s actions must be “concerted” and be for the purpose of mutual aid or support. Even when it is undertaken for mutual aid or support, concerted activity by employees is not always protected.
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