Employers may have won the battle to keep American workers ignorant of rights they have held for 70 years ago under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in South Carolina recently ruled the National Labor Relations Board lacks the authority to require employers to post notices either electronically or physically “in a conspicuous place” informing workers of their rights under the NLRA.
This holding follows an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the poster rule violated employers free speech rights.
The NLRB contends that American workers are largely ignorant of their rights under the NLRA, adding that the poster rule is particularly important for non-union workers who lack a designated bargaining representative. The NLRA can come into play for non-union employees when, for example, an employer fires a non-union worker for discussing a safety concern or other concerns about working conditions.
The poster informed employees that they have a right to form and join unions, collectively bargain with representation, discuss the terms of their employment and take action to improve working conditions.
The poster rule elicited immediate opposition from a broad coalition of national business groups after it was approved by the NLRB in 2011.
Interestingly, 21 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined with the chamber to oppose the poster rule, including John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The South Carolina appeals court ruled the NLRB is not charged with informing employees of their rights under the NLRA and “ we find no indication in the plain language of the Act that Congress intended to grant the Board the authority to promulgate such a requirement.”
Earlier, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held the notice-posting rule violated Section 8(c) of the NLRA, which prohibits the board from finding employer speech that is not coercive to be an unfair labor practice.
In addition to Kline, the following members of the U.S. Congress House of Representatives signed on to an amicus brief opposing the NLRB rule requiring that employers post a notice advising workers of their rights:
- JOE WILSON, R-SC.;
- RODNEY ALEXANDER, R- LA;
- STEVE PEARCE, R-NM;
- GREGG HARPER, R-MS;
- PHIL ROE, R-TN;
- GLENN THOMPSON, R-PA;
- TIM WALBERG, R-MI;
- LOU BARLETTA, R-PA;
- LARRY BUCSHON, R-IN;
- SCOTT DESJARLAIS, R-TN;
- TREY GOWDY, R-SC;
- JOE HECK, R-NV;
- BILL HUIZENGA, R-MI;
- MIKE KELLY, R-PA;
- JAMES LANKFORD, R-OK;
- ; KRISTI NOEM, R-SD;
- ; ALAN NUNNELEE, R-Miss;
- ; REID RIBBLE, R-WS;
- TODD ROKITA, R-IN;
- and DANIEL WEBSTER, R-FL.