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National Labor Relations Board Issues New Rule Requiring Employers To Post NLRA Rights Notice

September 15, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently published a Final Rule, which requires most private sector employers to post notice in the workplace informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), also known as the Wagner Act, was enacted in 1935 to encourage the practice of collective bargaining by employees through a representative to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. 

By November 14, 2011, all covered employers will be required to post this new NLRA rights notice in conspicuous places in the workplace. In specific, the notice contains:

1. A summary of employee rights under the NLRA, including: the right to organize a union to negotiate with the employer regarding wages, benefits, hours and other working conditions; the right to form or join a union; the right to discuss wages and working conditions with co-workers or a union; the right to take collective action to improve working conditions; and the right to engage in other protected activities.

2. Examples of employer or union illegal conduct under the NLRA;

3. A statement about the employer's obligation to bargain in good faith if a union has been selected by employees;

4. Information concerning basic enforcement procedures; and

5. NLRB contact information.

The notice must be posted in English as well as in another language if at least 20 percent of the employees are not proficient in English and speak another language. 

Additionally, an employer will also be required to post the notice on an intranet or Internet site if the employer customarily communicates with its employees about personnel rules or policies by such means. Electronic notice must be posted no less prominently than other notices to employees, and must be either an exact copy of the poster downloaded from the NLRB's website, or a link to the NLRB's website, http://www.nlrb.gov, that contains the poster, which link must be entitled “Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act.” Free copies of the notice will be available to employers on or before November 1, 2011. 

This new notice posting requirement applies to virtually all private sector employers whose employees are covered by the NLRA. Federal contractors are also subject to this new notice requirement, although such employers may comply with this rule by posting the employee notices required under the Department of Labor's notice rules. 

This new notice requirement applies equally to union and non-union workplaces.

This new notice posting requirement does not apply to agricultural, railroad and airline employers, or federal, state or local government employers. In addition, very small employers will be exempted from this requirement as the NLRB has chosen not to exercise jurisdiction over very small businesses whose annual volume of business is not large enough to have a more than slight effect on interstate commerce.

An employer’s failure to post the notice may be treated as an unfair labor practice under the NLRA, subject to the NLRB’s investigation of allegations of unfair labor practices. While the NLRB does not initiate enforcement action on its own, a complaint by an employee may bring this practice to the NLRB’s attention.

In order to comply with this new requirement, employers should review these new notice requirements, as well as rights and responsibilities under the NLRA. This will be particularly important for non-unionized employers, who are generally less familiar with the requirements and procedures of the NLRA. Finally, employers should ensure that immediate supervisors are properly trained to respond to employee questions so that such individuals do not make statements that may appear to impermissibly interfere with an employee’s NLRA rights.
 

For more information, please contact:
Catherine P. Wells, Member of the Firm
973.530.2051 / cwells@wolffsamson.com
Margaret O’Rourke Wood, Member of the Firm
973.530.2063 / mwood@wolffsamson.com
Denise J. Pipersburgh, Associate
973.530.2090 / dpipersburgh@wolffsamson.com