No. Your employer cannot legally fire you for talking to, joining, or even organizing a labor union. This is because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects your right to form, join, or assist a union.
Under the NLRA, employers may not:
- Prohibit you from engaging in union activity during non-work time or distributing union literature in non-work areas (including parking lots and break rooms)
- Fire, demote, or transfer you for joining or supporting a union
- Threaten or take adverse action against you for joining or supporting a union (i.e., reducing your hours or giving you less favorable shifts)
- Close or threaten to close your workplace due to union activity amongst employees
- Discourage you from supporting a union with promotions, pay raises, or other benefits
- Favor employees who do not support the union
- Forbid union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace
- Spy on you
- Ask you questions about your union support or activities in a way that interferes with your rights
Although anti-union sentiment is common among employers, your boss cannot use their authority to interfere with your right to organize.
What Are My Rights?
You have the right to meet with other employees or union representatives to discuss joining a union. You also have the right to decide whether or not you will join the union. Additionally, you may:
- Distribute, read, and discuss union literature (outside of work hours)
- Wear union insignia (buttons, stickers, hats, etc.) to work
- Circulate and sign petitions
- Sign union cards and demand union recognition
- Organize a union with other employees
- Support an existing union
- Collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of employment
- Strike and picket
These activities are protected by law, particularly the NLRA (see above). It is against the law for employers to influence your relationship with the union.
Unfortunately, as many as 41% of employers break federal laws when workers try to form unions and collectively bargain. Often, these employers get rid of employees with an excuse. Most recently, many employers used the pandemic to justify union-related layoffs.
What Happens if My Employer Breaks the Law?
With at-will employment, your employer can fire you at any time for any reason – except the ones prohibited by law. If your employer fires you for joining a union, you will have to prove wrongful termination to recover missed wages and get your job back.
At Donati Law, PLLC, we can help. In fact, our mission is to improve the lives of our clients and all people in our community. Unionizing is an essential tool in United States labor relations and helps employees protest unfair treatment or demand improvements in wages, hours, and working conditions.
You have the right to participate in unions and union activities and organize a union if one does not exist within your workplace or industry.
If your employer interferes with your right to unionize by firing you or enacting any of the illegal behaviors we have discussed in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us (901) 209-5500 or online.