I Was Fired for Trying to Unionize Can I File a Claim for Wrongful Termination?

Throughout the 20th century, workers in the United States fought for job protection, safety regulations, higher wages, and benefits through unionizing. Because of unions, the average factory, warehouse, or manufacturing job went from sweatshop labor to highly coveted, well-paid positions that could comfortably support a family.

But, over the last three or four decades, unions have weakened and wages have shrunk. It makes sense that workers are talking about unionizing once again. As a result, employers are cracking down on union discussions considering they would have to pay higher wages if such talks proved fruitful. However, if you were fired for trying to unionize, your employer may have broken the law.

Recent Examples of High Profile Wrongful Terminations for Unionizing

There have been numerous high-profile incidents involving unsafe working conditions and other employer wrongdoing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employees have sought to form unions. Some have been successful, while others have failed, in large part due to likely wrongful termination.

Workers attempting to unionize at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island is one example. Louisville employees at Trader Joe’s, truck drivers of Cort Furniture Rental, and North Carolina Nurses at Mission Hospital are other illustrations. The National Labor Relations Act bars employers from taking certain actions against unionized employees, and those wishing to unionize.

Your Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act grants employees the following rights:

  • Organize a union
  • Join, assist, or form a union
  • Bargain collectively
  • Discuss terms of employment or union organizing with co-workers
  • Take action to unionize with co-workers
  • Strike and picket under certain circumstances

The NLRA protects employees from engaging in these actions and more.

Your Employer Cannot Take Any of the Following Actions Under the NLRA

Under the NLRA, your employer is barred from taking the following actions:

  • Prohibiting employees from soliciting a union during non-work hours (including before or after work, or during lunch or rest breaks).
  • Terminating you or taking other adverse employment actions against you because you joined a union or attempted to unionize.
  • Spy or videotape peaceful union activities.
  • Threaten to close the workplace if workers attempt to unionize.

The PRO Act is Unlikely to Pass Through the Senate

There are weak points in the current law under the NLRA that employers use to weaken unions, stomp them out before they begin, or otherwise undermine an employee’s rights. Some of these include banning employers from interfering in union elections or using an employee’s immigration statutes as a bargaining chip to decide the terms of their employment.

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) would put a stop to these loopholes used by employers and further protect employees such as yourself. While the bill has passed the House, it is unlikely to pass through the Senate and become law.

Call a Chicago Wrongful Termination Attorney Today

Unfortunately, there are some circumstances in which an employer does have the right to fire an employee for attempting to unionize. For example, they may fire an employee who passes out union material to others during working hours. Even if you did not do this during working hours, your employer may claim that you did, and it can be hard to prove otherwise.

A Chicago wrongful termination attorney can help prove that you did nothing wrong, and hold your employer accountable for their unlawful action against you. Call the North Suburban Legal Services, LLC at 312-909-6089 to schedule a free consultation today.




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