Management's Workplace Lawyers

NLRB – Protected Concerted Activity.

March 31, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board held that a supervisor’s statements conveying displeasure with an employee’s protected concerted activity violated Section 8(a)(1) the National Labor Relations Act, which provides that it is an unfair labor practice to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their protected rights.  In Greater Omaha Packing Co., immediately prior to a planned work stoppage, an employee was confronted by the plant manager, who asked the employee “what is it that [he] wanted.”  The plant manager added that the employee has a good job, good insurance and good overtime, and repeated his question.  The employee answered that he wanted an increase, and the plant manager then fired him.  In addition to the termination itself being unlawful, the Board held that the “what is it that he wanted” commentary preceding the termination was also unlawful, finding that the comments were coercive.  In light of this case, employers must be extremely careful in choosing their words when talking to employees engaged in protected concerted activity.