A boycott is an agreement between two or more individuals to refuse to conduct business with a company or person.

How Does the Sherman Anti-Trust Act Relate to Boycott Laws?

The Sherman Anti-Trust Act makes a boycott unlawful if it is done to intimidate, coerce, or threaten employees or stop a company from conducting business. An example of an unlawful boycott is when two or more companies agree not to deal with another company or person. Another example of an unlawful boycott is when it is used to make markets more competitive or force a competitor to agree to terms is also illegal.

Is an Employee Strike the Same as a Boycott?

An employee strike is a type of boycott. A strike usually occurs when an employer cannot reach an agreement with a labor union. The labor union has an option to tell their union members to strike. If the workers agree, they temporarily leave their jobs. Some or all of the workers may picket outside the plant or company to show its perceived unfairness.

Can I Strike If I Am a Non-Union Employee?

No. A non-union employee cannot legally strike or join an existing strike.

Are There Illegal Strikes?

The union employees do have the right to strike during labor disputes. However, they cannot engage in any employment boycott that involves:

  • Picketing that denies entrance into the company or plant
  • Sit down strikes where employees remain in the company or on the plant floor, but do not work
  • Secondary strike directed at a different company or place than the employee’s place of business
  • Any violence in strikes
  • Wildcat strikes where employees call a strike without the approval of the labor union

Is a Lockout Different than a Boycott?

No, a lockout is another type of boycott. Instead of the employees walking off the job, the employer prohibits them from working. A lockout can occur when negotiations end between a labor union and an employer, such as a union of professional athletes and a professional athletic team. It is only legal when there is economic justification for the employer to do so.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Boycott Laws?

Boycott laws are complicated, and it is very easy to engage in an illegal boycott without realizing it. If you have questions about boycott laws, contact an employment attorney for help and guidance.