Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to limit certain labor and management practices that can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses, and the U.S. economy. Although a good portion of the NLRA deals with unionization, Section 7 provides protections for all non-supervisory employees, even those not involved with a union.
Specifically, Section 7 defines and protects concerted activity by employees. Generally, protected concerted activity takes place when employees act as a group (i.e., in concert) for their mutual aid or protection. That said, it’s easy for an individual employee to gain protection under the Act if they are discussing the terms and conditions of their employment either physically around co-workers or in the same virtual space (e.g., Facebook). The terms and conditions of one’s employment are just as broad as they sound; they include pay, benefits, treatment by management, dress codes, workplace policies, scheduling, and more.
The most common mistake employers make in violation of Section 7 is placing restrictions on discussions of wages. If you have policies or practices that explicitly or implicitly forbid employees from talking about how much they are paid, those should be eliminated immediately.