NLRB Legal Action Against Walmart

In the weeks before Thanksgiving, a memorable image began circulating the Internet: a cardboard box set up inside a Walmart with a sign urging donations for its own employees. The mistreatment and abuse of employees by Walmart is no surprise after years of legal battles over “poverty pay” and unlawful labor practices. In a recent and groundbreaking decision, the National Labor Relations Board  (“NLRB”) has issued complaints alleging the company has broken the law by firing and harassing the employees who have protested against the corporation.

Unless a settlement can be arranged, the NLRB will be prosecuting Walmart for illegal firings and disciplinary actions taken against its employees. Nationwide, there is growing unrest and protest against Walmart, the world’s largest corporate employer. Spearheaded by “OUR Walmart,” a national organization of Walmart workers, employees and their supporters rallied and protested at stores across the country. The protests occurred on the day after Thanksgiving, also known as “Black Friday” and the busiest shopping day of the year. Even though these rallies and protests were perfectly legal, Walmart executives threatened disciplinary action against those who did not show up for their scheduled shifts. There were several hundred workers and tens of thousands of supporters who participated in the Black Friday protests. Additional protests in June involved 100 workers and their supporters who arrived at the shareholder meeting in Arkansas to challenge the company’s abusive labor practices. Walmart retaliated by firing those who went on strike last year over low pay, unsatisfactory benefits, and arbitrary work schedules.

According to the NLRB, Walmart systematically fired the workers that participated in the protests and disciplined dozens of others, despite their legally protected absences.  The NLRB alleges Walmart illegally threatened employees in November of 2012 before the Black Friday protests and unlawfully disciplined or terminated employees who engaged in legally protected strikes.

The results and consequences of the NLRB’s findings are not yet clear. Walmart could be required to hire back the workers and award them back pay. Walmart may also have to take additional measures to education and inform employees of their rights to organize and protest under federal labor laws. While federal law does not allow the NLRB to impose fines, the company could face sanctions, including compensatory back pay for employees.

Nationwide, employee supporters, unions and activists are fighting to stop Walmart from violating labor laws through intimidation, threats, and abuse. The NLRB’s actions should encourage more employees to speak out to improve pay and working conditions. If you have suffered wrongful termination or retaliation for reporting misconduct, remember that you do have rights. Our employment attorneys want to hear from you. You may have a legal action against your employer. Please call (612) 252-3570 to learn more about your rights and to speak with an experienced Minnesota employment attorney.