The The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has just issued a final rule obligating the vast majority of private sector employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The purpose of the notice is to inform employees of their rights to organize, form, join or assist a union; to bargain collectively with their employer; and to discuss their wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment with their co-workers or a union. The new rule covers not only union workplaces, but also non-union workplaces.
The rule will pose new challenges for non-union employers and make it harder for all employers to defend themselves against allegations of unfair labor practices. For example, an employer's failure to properly comply with the rule will toll the six-month statute of limitations period for filing a charge against the employer for unfair labor practices. An employer's knowing violation of the rule can also be used against the employer as evidence of unlawful motive in anti-union discrimination and other unfair labor practice litigation.
Employers should take immediate steps to determine whether they are subject to the rule. Covered employers must be in full compliance by November 14, 2011. Human resource professionals, executives, and supervisors should be trained on how to properly respond to employees' questions about their NLRA rights, as well as how to properly address union-related activities in the workplace.
The notice of rights that employers must post under the new rule is not yet available, but employers should periodically check the NLRB website for additional details.
Denise Portnoy, Associate
Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, LLP