The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects individuals engaged in “protected concerted activity,” allowing them to legally fight for increased pay, better benefits, and improved working conditions. This concerted activity is essential for labor organizing, and thus these protections are a cornerstone of labor law. Here are five common examples of protected concerted activity, as defined by the NLRA:
- Talking with other workers
- One of the most essential parts of concerted activity in the workplace is simply being able to talk with other workers about important issues. This can include your pay, your job benefits, or the working conditions in your workplace. Though some employers may not like it, you have a legal right to discuss these issues with your fellow employees, and coordinate a concerted response to those problems.
- Circulating a petition
- You are also legally allowed to circulate a petition to your fellow workers to gain support for important labor issues. This could include asking for better wages, more sick or vacation days, or for improvements in workplace safety, among other things. Your employer cannot legally prohibit you from circulating a petition, nor punish a worker for signing such a petition.
- Refusing to work in unsafe conditions
- If your workplace is unsafe to work in, either due to a lack of safety protections, poor sanitation, or other issues, you are allowed to refuse to work. Your employer is legally required to ensure the workplace is safe to work in, and they cannot force you to put your life in unnecessary danger. This kind of concerted activity may include striking, sit-ins, or any other concerted effort to refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
- Speaking to government officials
- Your employer also cannot punish you for speaking to government officials about labor problems in your workplace. This could include reporting workplace abuses and negligence to government authorities, as well as speaking to politicians about labor legislation. You have a constitutional right to speak about these issues, and your employer cannot simply take that away.
- Speaking to the media
- In addition to speaking to the government, you can also choose to speak to the media about labor issues without fear of legal reprisal. Getting media attention for problems in your workplace is a potentially effective strategy for advocating for your interests, which is why employers do not like it. However, they cannot legally punish you for it, which is why they may try to find other reasons to justify retaliating against you.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.