Employee Labor Rights in North Carolina
While North Carolina is a “right to work” state, the National Labor Relations Board still enforces important employee rights outside of union environments. Right to Work laws inhibit unions from growing in many states by prohibiting them from collecting dues from non-member employees, even if the union is required to advocate on behalf of those employees for better working conditions or wages. However, such laws do not leave workers unprotected from unfair labor practices.
What if I’m not in a union?
Union and Non-Union employees alike have the right to act together to try to improve their pay and working conditions. If employees are fired or otherwise retaliated against for engaging in protected group activities, they may have the right to bring an action under the National Labor Relations Act. Protected activities include things like:
- Talking with one or more co-workers about your wages and benefits or other working conditions (including through social media)
- Circulating a petition asking for better hours
- Participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions
- Joining with coworkers to talk directly to your employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in your workplace
What if I acted alone?
Even when employees act alone, employers are prohibited from retaliating against them if such action would chill others from engaging in protected concerted activities. For example, employers cannot legally terminate or discipline a single employee for violating a policy that suggests employees are not allowed to do something permitted by the National Labor Relations Act. Policies that have been found illegal under this prohibition include:
- Prohibiting discussions of customer or employee information
- Prohibiting disclosure of another’s confidential or other proprietary information
- Requiring employees to be respectful of others and the company
- Prohibiting employees from making fun of, denigrating, or defaming co-workers, customers, or the company
- Prohibiting insulting, embarrassing, hurtful or abusive comments about other employees
- Requiring employees to show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory
- Requiring employees to submit all complaints or reports to management
- Prohibiting employees from creating a job-related blog, social media post, or online group
- Prohibiting conduct that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the Company’s business or reputation
- Requiring employees to refer all media inquiries to management
- Prohibiting defamatory, libelous, slanderous or discriminatory comments about the company
- Prohibiting any action that is not in the best interest of the company
- Prohibiting any conflict of interest between your personal interests and those of the company
- Prohibiting solicitations or distributions of literature at work
If you are still employed and have engaged in any of these activities, you may already have a sense that you are in danger of losing your job. Contact an employment lawyer while you are still employed. There may be important steps you need to take while still employed in order to ensure you are protected. There are also specific measures experienced attorneys can take to counter a company’s attempt to wrongfully fire you or retaliate against you.