Employees working at a business have certain rights protected by state and federal statutes. Some of the most important basic rights of workers include the right to organize with one another. Otherwise, employees might have no choice but to accept misconduct from an employer or leave a job. Allowing workers to organize helps to ensure that employers comply with the law and treat their employees with dignity. Of course, unionizing isn’t a process that occurs overnight, and federal protections apply to not just joining a union but also attempts to start one.
Workers are usually legally permitted to discuss their wages and working conditions, cooperate to start a union and engage in collective bargaining with an employer. Such actions are protected workplace conduct and should not trigger any kind of penalties. Unfortunately, many businesses, even large companies, retaliate against workers who attempt to organize or unionize. Thankfully, there are ways that employees can fight back against inappropriate retaliation levied in response to their organizational efforts.
Keeping careful records
To prove to the courts or regulatory agencies that a company infringed on workers’ rights, there will generally need to be proof of how they attempted to unionize or organize and how the company responded to those efforts. Keeping minutes from the meetings that they attend, maintaining written notes about conversations with coworkers and collecting other documentation can help establish that workers have engaged in protected attempts to unionize or organize. Any union organization that the workers have communicated with might also have internal records that can help corroborate their claims.
Workers will also then need to establish that the company took some kind of punitive measures against the workers involved in unionizing or organizing. Terminations, transfers, demotions and layoffs are all among the retaliatory steps a business might utilize to punish those who attempt to unionize and deter others from following their example.
Retaliation is often a major employment law violation
Provided that employees who’ve suffered career consequences as a result of their attempts to seek better wages or safer working conditions can prove that the company mistreated them afterward, they may be able to seek damages or even get a job back after a wrongful termination. Ultimately, being able to recognize retaliation and preparing to fight against it from the earliest stages may benefit those who want to unionize with their co-workers.