Notification of Employee Rights under Federal Labor Laws is the official name of Executive Order 13496, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. The executive order requires companies doing business with the federal government to inform employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA covers you and your coworkers’ rights as members or nonmembers of labor organizations. The law applies to federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as to private-sector employers that aren’t under government contract.
According to the federal government, workers are more productive when they know their legal rights, the procedures for filing work-related grievances and the penalties for employers’ noncompliance with the law. The government issued Executive Order 13496 to promote economic growth. Its objective is to avert strikes and other work stoppages that interfere with federal contractors’ ability to supply goods and services to the government.
Among your rights under the NLRA is the right to form, join or assist a union. This means that if you seek to organize a union to negotiate pay, hours, benefits and other working conditions with your employer, the law protects you from hostile acts by your employer. You have the right to discuss employment terms and conditions or union organizing activities with coworkers or a union representative. You also have the right to join with coworkers to improve working conditions by raising concerns with your employer or a government agency, or getting union help. On the flip side, the law protects your right not to engage in any of these activities or join a union. Your employer can’t keep you from soliciting union participation or distributing union literature during nonwork hours, and in nonwork areas, such as a lounge. Also, your employer can’t question you about union activity in a discouraging way; transfer, demote or fire you because of union activity or nonactivity; or promise raises, promotions or other job advancements to discourage union activity. The law also prohibits unions from threatening you or taking action against you for not joining. Also, a union can’t refuse to process a grievance on your behalf for criticizing it or cause your employer to take negative action against you for not taking part in union activity.
The NLRA requires federal contractors and subcontractors to post the Notification of Employee Rights under Federal Labor Laws in highly visible areas in their offices and plants. Employers that post employee notices electronically also must post the notification electronically, with a prominent link to the website of the Office of Management-Labor Standards, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
You may file a complaint with the OMLS if your employer hasn’t posted the notification. Complaints are sent to the OMLS or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in Washington, D.C., or any OMLS field office. The National Labor Relations Board handles employee complaints against employers that violate the NLRA. The OFCCP punishes contractors that violate the law by suspending or canceling their government contracts, barring them from future contracts or placing their names on a list of employers considered ineligible for contracts.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Executive Order 13496: Notification of Employee Rights under Federal Labor Laws
- Government Printing Office: Federal Register, Vol. 74,Issue 22
- U.S. Department of Labor: Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet: Obligation of Federal Contractors to Notify Employees of Their Rights Under Federal Labor Laws
Valerie Bolden-Barrett is a writer, editor and communication consultant specializing in best business practices, public policy, personal finance and career development. She is a former senior editor of national business publications covering management and finance, employment law, human resources, career development, and workplace issues and trends.