Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) is a labor law enforced by the U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority. It refers to certain actions taken by employers that go against the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935. Under section 7 of NLRA, employees are allowed rights by law, such as the right to self-organize, join or form labor organizations, bargain collectively, and choose their representatives.
In case any of these rights are violated by the employer or the union, employees have the right to seek legal help. Acts like these are investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Unfair Labor Practices by Management or Employer
Under sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB can assist an employee to resolve Unfair Labor Practices. These unlawful practices include:
- Interfering two or more employees in protected concerted activities provided by the Act whether in the presence of a union or otherwise.
- Interfering with the formation of an organization for laborers.
- Preventing an employee from engaging or forming protected concerted union activities.
- Discriminating against an employee for seeking legal help from the NLRB or taking part in NLRB proceedings.
- Refusing to bargain with the union or the lawful representative of the laborers or employees
What are examples of unfair labor practices?
An employer or agency can be accused of committing a ULP in the following situations:
- Threatening to doom an employee’s career if he or she proceeds with grievances
- Transferring an employee unlawfully to another job or position for seeking help from the NLRB
- Modifying an employee's work schedule without giving the labor union prior notice or the opportunity to bargain against the decision
NLRB Remedies Against ULPs
According to the National Labor Relations Act, employees can contact the NLRB to file a lawsuit against the employer or union if their rights as an employee have been violated. The procedure generally involves five to six steps, starting with filing a complaint with the NLRB to ultimately hearing a decision by the court of law. Here are the steps, in brief:
Under the NLRA, an employee who is not a member of the Board of NLRB may file a charge with the NLRB. An employee or member of the NLRB is allowed to assist an individual or employee of another agency to file a charge with NLRB, but he or she is not allowed to file a charge on their own.
Any charge of ULP should be filed and served within 6 months of the incident. The deadline can be extended on special conditions, such as unlawful means to conceal the violation.
Proceeding with the charges with NLRB
The NLRB General council investigates the ULP charges and decides whether or not the complaint should be accepted. The director of the particular region where the charge was filed is responsible for making this decision within 30 days. The regional director can ask for required modifications in the charges to eliminate unlawful allegations.
In case a charge is dismissed, the employee can escalate the issue to the General Counsel. The employee who filed the charge is responsible for presenting a witness in support of the ULP charge. Failing to do so may result in the case being dismissed by NLRB.
If the charge is considered a formal ULP, it’s filed with the NLRB. The board can also move for informal settlements without the consent of the charging party if deemed necessary.
Interim injunctive relief
In case the General Counsel considers the charges to be grave, injunctive relief is issued by the Federal district court. The decision is taken when it’s imperative to protect the employee from severe harassment or suffering.
Hearing or Decision of the court
If the charge is not resolved by the General Counsel, it moves to an Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB. The administrative court has the right to hearing commences just like the federal court.
Review of charges
Those unsatisfied with the decision of the NLRB can request a review by a petition to the Court of Appeals. The issue can be further escalated to the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeals.
If the Court of Appeals enforces the decision of the NLRB Board, then the Regional Director must monitor compliance. In such situations, the region considers compliance proceedings if it fails to resolve the dispute over the back pay amount.