California’s public policy protects a worker’s rights to join or not join, or to remain or not remain a member of a labor or employer organization. Public policy also protects an employee’s rights to “full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of his own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of his employment” without coercion or restraint by the employer. (See Labor Code §921, §923).
These rights are similar to those protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) §7 (29 USC §§151–169). The NLRA protects the rights of nonsupervisory employees to organize and join labor unions; to act in concert with regard to wages, hours, and working conditions; to strike; and to refrain from doing any of these things. It also prohibits the discharge of employees for union activity, for concerted activity regarding the employees’ common interests, or for exercising their rights under the NLRA. See 29 USC §158(a)(1), (3)–(4).
In this manner California’s Labor Code and NLRA protect similar rights. However, NLRA grants the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) exclusive jurisdiction over such matters, and therefore may preempt its California counterpart, in turn barring employees to bring an action in state court.
However, the California Labor Code is not redundant, in that, an employee may bring a private action against a small employer who fires the employee who supports a union, if NLRB refuses to assert jurisdiction over the employer because of its size.
A union may file a charge with the NLRB against a small employer. In turn the NLRB may refuse to assert jurisdiction over the employer. If the Region dismisses the charge because it will not assert jurisdiction, the dismissal letter may allow state court to assert jurisdiction.
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations. Nothing contained in this communication constitutes legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship of any sort. The information provided is solely for advertising, information and educational purposes. Nadir Osman Ahmed is licenesed to practice law in California.
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