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Overview of federal labor law

| Jan 11, 2021 | Employment Law |

Since the early 20th Century, the United States government has had laws on the books protecting the right of workers to organize.

These labor protections allow employees to unionize, strike and take other collective action to advocate for their rights and for a better working environment.

Employees have the right to form unions

Employees have the right to be a member of a union and also may help with the formation of a union at their workplace.

In practice, this means under federal law, an employer in New York cannot in any way punish or even harass an employee if the employee is trying to gather signatures to form a union, wearing merchandise that promotes a union or speaking in support of union membership.

These protections are not absolute, however. For example, so long as they are not singling out those trying to form a union, an employer may have rules against soliciting on work time.

Employees also have the right to other collective action

The federal laws do not just protect employees who want to form a union.

Without regard to whether they are seeking or even want union membership, employees have the right to talk to each other about working conditions, including salaries, and also have the right to lawfully confront their employer with their issues.

These rights extend to workers who choose to use social media.

Again, the law has some limits. For instance, an employee who makes comments about his or her employer that are not true or that are objectively offensive may face disciplinary action at the hands of his or her employer.

United States labor law can be complicated, and its application depends heavily on the unique facts and circumstances of a case. A Staten Island resident with specific questions about labor law should consider speaking with an experienced attorney.