On November 18, 2013, the National Labor Relations Board (« NLRB ») ruled that Walmart broke employment law. The NLRB Office of the General Counsel has investigated charges alleging that Walmart violated the rights of its employees after they threatened and punished workers who planned to go on strike or who spoke out. The NLRB has grounds to prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 employees. Under the National Labor Relations Act only non-supervisory employees are covered and the employees need to be part of “concerted activity” with coworkers to be protected.
Walmart is the world’s largest private employers and nationwide movement started last year called OUR Walmart. The OUR Walmart network helped organize rallies outside Walmart to protest against the employees’ poor working conditions such as: low pay, stingy benefits, arbitrary work schedules and part-time jobs. Following those protests, Walmart executives threatened disciplinary actions against the employees who participated in the rallies and strikes, even though they were legal. A union spokeswoman said that at least 43 workers were disciplined and at least 23 were fired.
The Office of the General Counsel found merit to alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act against Walmart, such as the following:
– During two national television news broadcasts and in statements to employees at Walmart stores in California and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012.
– Walmart stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.
– Walmart stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined, and/or terminated employees in anticipation of or in response to employees’ other protected concerted activities.
Walmart’s executives strongly disagree with the findings of the NLRB and a spokesperson for them stated that: “this is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified,” and added “the fact is, we provide good jobs and unparalleled opportunities for our associates. This is our busiest time of the year and we’re focused on serving our customers and helping them have a great holiday season.”
Under the NLRB ruling, Walmart could be required to reinstate the workers, reverse the disciplinary actions and award them back pay.
If you believe you have been retaliated against by your employer or were disciplined after speaking out or participating in rallies and/or strikes, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.