NLRB Increases Coordination Among Enforcement Agencies, Urges NLRB Regional Offices To Advise Employees About Wage-Hour And Employee Safety Violations

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On August 8, 2014, the Associate General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a memorandum directing that the NLRB regional offices should advise employees of their rights to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regarding wage-hour violations and/or safety violations. Typically, the NLRB investigates only claims by employees or unions that employers (whether unionized already or not) have violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by interfering with employees' right to organize, by interfering with their right to engage in protected concerted activity, or by violating their rights in some other way protected by the NLRA.  Commonly, NLRB charges also raise a number of other concerns that are not covered by the NLRA. Assuming an employee does not independently discover the agency with which he or she should file a separate claim, those “additional” concerns remain uninvestigated and ultimately disappear.  NLRB agents have now been told that they should affirmatively notify a complaining employee who raises possible safety or wage-hour claims that  he or she may file a claim with the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (for safety claims) or the DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) (for wage-hour claims).  The memorandum reinforces a recent increased coordination of government agencies to share information and ensure that employees use all available avenues for complaints, and, as a practical matter, means that the chronic griper -- even one without an attorney -- may be getting instruction about how to file charges with multiple agencies.

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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.

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