Union activities are an expression of a worker’s right to freely associate and self organize with others. An employer who retaliates against an employee because of his or her involvement in union activities will be found to be in direct violation of the California Labor Code (CLC). In fact, section 923 of the CLC states that it is against public policy for employers and employees to enter into promises where either party agrees to:
- Join, not join or remain a member of a labor organization or employment organization; or
- Withdraw from the employment relationship because either party joins, or remains a member of an labor organization or an employment organization.
In LA, if employers and employees enter into such agreements that promise to join or not join a labor or employment organization, the agreement will not be considered valid and enforceable under California state law.
The Right To Freedom of Association and Union Activities
An important part of California public policy regarding labor law is an employee’s right to voluntarily enter into employment agreements, and also the right to freely self-organize, associate and designate representatives of the employee’s choosing. Labor unions are often used to represent the interest of an entire class of employees when negotiating employment contracts, benefits and other conditions with employers. California supports such representation because it levels the playing field between individual employees and employers who would otherwise have an unfair advantage in the employment bargaining and negotiation process. Thus, any attempt to prevent employees from freely associating through membership in trade unions and employment organizations will be found to violate California labor law.
The California Labor Code, Union Activities and Retaliation
Retaliation is a form of discrimination that can occur when an employee receives negative treatment from an employer because of that employee’s decision to exercise some right afforded to them under the California Labor Code or federal law. California Labor Code Section 98.6 prohibits all employers from retaliating, taking adverse action or other discriminating action against an employee or job applicant because that employee files a complaint against the employer with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), or participates in a civil suit or political activities against an employer. Furthermore, an employer who fires or terminates an employee because of their membership in a union can be found guilty of illegal retaliatory employment practices. It is important to understand that not only employers can be found guilty of retaliation under California state law. In fact, labor unions and employment organizations can also be deemed to have participated in retaliatory employment conduct.
To prove a employment retaliation case based on union membership/activities in Los Angeles, it must be shown that:
- You engaged in protected activity ie. free association and labor union membership/involvement;
- An employer took an adverse action against you; and
- The employer took some adverse action because of your involvement in a protected activity.
Los Angeles, California Employment Law Attorneys
An employee’s right to free association and to decide whether to or not participate in union activities is a very important right protected by California public policy. If you are a victim of employment retaliation because of your union membership and/or involvement in union activities, contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles, California for an initial consultation on your case.