The term “unfair labor practices” refers to any actions by employers that violate labor laws such as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). These deal specifically with unions and union rights, and are different from broader employment violations, such as illegal advertising or “cooking the books." Unfair labor practices may also involve limitations on unions and union members.
Unfair labor laws prevent employers from taking actions such as:
- Interfering or dominating labor union organization or formation
- Discriminating against employees engaged in union (“concerted”) activities
- Taking action against an employee for filing charges related to unfair labor practices (i.e. engaging in “retaliatory discharge”)
- Refusing to engage in negotiations or bargaining with union representatives
- Interfere with general employee rights provided for by union labor laws
Unfair labor laws also prevent employers from discriminating against employees who have refused to participate in union activities.
Unfair labor practice claims are generally filed with the National Labor Relations Board. This is a government agency dedicated to investigating various labor and employment issues. The NLRB will conduct an investigation into the matter, and if appropriate, will prescribe the proper remedy. This can range from a mandatory change in policies to various rulings that may affect employee rights and benefits.
If the NLRB investigation has not yielded satisfactory results, employees can often appeal their claim to a different source, such as the General Counsel. More individual violations may require an individual civil lawsuit, in which the employee is compensated for losses.
Unfair labor practices can cause widespread legal issues throughout an entire company. These types of claims are serious because they can affect large groups of workers. You may wish to hire a labor lawyer if you need help with a legal claim. Your attorney can help you file a legal claim and can represent you during administrative hearings or during a lawsuit filing. Labor violations must be filed in a timely manner in order to meet specific filing deadlines for unfair labor practice cases.