Perhaps you’ve heard that “May Day” 2017 is shaping up to be one of the most heavily participated labor events in recent memory. Before it happens, then, you need to know what is and is not considered “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
First and foremost – you do not need to have a “union shop” to be covered by the NLRA. Presuming that none of this matters for you is one of the biggest mistakes that an employer can make.
If your employee(s) participate in any of these “day without a…” events, your normal planned and unplanned absence rules can and should be enforced.
If your employee(s) are protesting about immigration enforcement, global warming, or any of the other myriad topics that are floating around out there? The key test is whether the impetus for the protest (and for walking off the job, or not showing, etc.) is something that is within your control as the employer. You can’t control who is or isn’t POTUS, for example, and so walking off the job and picketing your store about Trump might be an exercise in free speech, but it’s also probably an actionable AWOL under your employment policies.
If the topic of the protest, however, is that your employee(s) want better pay, better health care insurance, better scheduling flexibility… you get the picture. Those are all things within your control as an employer, and the NLRB will consider such workplace disruptions to be “protected concerted activities under the NLRA.”
Whether you personally want to #MAGA or #Resist, just make sure you don’t accidentally step across the line as an employer.