Labor unions have a long history in the U.S. and have helped improve working conditions and wages for generations. Labor unions, also called trade unions, hold employers accountable by giving workers a voice. Being part of a labor union is your right as an American worker, and if an employer takes any adverse action against you for participating in union activity, you need to speak with a lawyer immediately.
Federal and State Laws Prohibit Employers from Interfering with Union Activity
Because it would undermine the cause of a labor union if an employer was able to fire their workers for participating in union activity, doing so is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employers are forbidden from ”interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights relating to the following:
- Organizing a union;
- Forming a union;
- Joining a union; or
- Assisting a union with purposes of:
- Collective bargaining; or
- Working to improve terms and conditions of employment.”
It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for refraining from exercising any of these rights. The laws set by the NLRA are reflected at the state level by the Kansas Labor Relations Act, which applies to public employees such as firefighters, teachers, law enforcement, and more.
How Employers Retaliate Against Union Activity
There is a constant struggle between workers and employers, with workers fighting for better wages, safer and more pleasant working conditions, job security, and medical benefits. On the other hand, employers are fighting to reduce all of the above because all of those things cost money. Labor unions are a powerful tool for achieving better working terms and conditions, and an employer may come to the conclusion that if they stop an employee from participating in a union, they are thwarting the union itself, and in so doing increasing profits.
The following are examples of how an employer might retaliate against an employee not based on his or her merits, but based on participation or suspected participation in union activity:
- Firing the employee;
- Reducing the employee’s pay or hours;
- Demoting the employee;
- Refusing to promote the employee;
- Increasing surveillance of the employee;
- Harassing the employee or creating a hostile environment for the employee;
- Threatening the employee in either a professional or personal manner;
- Filing criminal or civil charges against the employee;
- Giving negative performance reviews;
- Creating trouble for the employee to find new employment;
- Wage withholding; and more
A Kansas Employment Attorney is Here to Help
It can feel impossible to stand up against a large corporation as an individual, which is why labor unions are so important; they create a powerful, single voice for workers who would otherwise be left to the mercy of a company that has a primary goal of generating profit above all else. Labor unions act as a collective bargaining tool to make better lives for workers by using the workforce as leverage. Nearly 15 million American workers are members of labor unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If an employer has threatened you, terminated you, or taken any other retaliatory action for your labor union participation, contact HKM Employment Attorneys today.