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Should I Get an Attorney or Contact the Labor Board?

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Should I Get an Attorney or Contact the Labor Board?

Recently, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) and Rhode Island Hospital filed unfair labor practice claims against each other, according to the Providence Journal. Rhode Island Hospital is claiming that UNAP acted in bad faith during contract negotiations between the parties. UNAP claims that Rhode Island Hospital violated their collective bargaining agreement when it made unilateral changes to worksite conditions.

As this situation demonstrates, unfair labor practices come in several different forms. In some cases, it involves sexual harassment or racial discrimination. Other situations involve issues regarding promotions, salaries, paid time off, unsafe work conditions, contract negotiations and pay raises. Just as there are multiple types of unfair labor practices, there are also varying options for victims and their families to defend their rights, including contacting an employment attorney and reaching out to the labor board.

Types of Unfair Labor Practices

As mentioned earlier, there are several different types of unfair labor practices. According to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, a few of the most common include:

  • Threatening the career of an employee who files a grievance
  • Failing to grant an employee’s request to have union representation during an investigatory meeting
  • No longer allowing an employee to work a compressed schedule without providing the employee’s union with notice or giving the union the chance to negotiate the terms of the schedule change
  • Transferring an employee to a department or job that he or she does not want to be transferred to because the employee filed a grievance

How to File a Complaint with the Labor Board

If you decide to file a complaint with the labor board, here’s how to do it:

  • Before you file a complaint, decide whether this is a matter that can be resolved without filing a grievance with the labor board. For instance, if your employer is unaware of the issue, discuss the situation with your human resources department first.
  • Keep detailed notes regarding the situation, including recording each incident from the first to the most recent, any strides you have taken to resolve the situation, and how your employer, management, and co-workers responded to your attempts to resolve the issue.
  • Research the rules that your company has for resolving the issue and make sure to follow those rules and attempt to resolve the problem internally. Also, learn about the laws and labor regulations that cover the issue. In some cases, you may have to file a complaint with a state agency before filing a grievance with the Department of Labor.
  • Figure out which Department of Labor agency you need to contact to submit your complaint, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division.
  • Check to see what the deadline is for filing your complaint. If you wait too long, you may not be able to file your complaint.

When Should I Talk to an Employment Attorney?

Victims of unfair labor practices may have the option to hire an employment lawyer as opposed to filing a complaint with the labor board. The signs that you should speak with an employment attorney are:

  • If you have been the victim of workplace misconduct and/or unfair labor practices or have witnessed another employee being victimized. Examples include your employer, management, or co-workers creating a hostile work environment, workplace safety issues, the product posing a danger to the public, and on-the-job harassment or discrimination.
  • Your employer or management preventing you from receiving a promotion or raise as a form of retaliation, harassment, or discrimination.
  • An employer or boss sexually harassing you.
  • If there is some form of workplace testing that has no connection to job performance that is preventing you from receiving a raise or promotion.
  • If you are not being paid properly. For example, not receiving overtime pay if you are a nonexempt employee.

Employment Lawyer vs Labor Board

Deciding between an employment lawyer and the labor board can be difficult for victims of unfair labor practices. However, in many cases, speaking with an employment attorney can help simplify the decision. Your attorney can recommend the best course of action for you, which may include filing a grievance, contacting the EEOC, or pursuing a lawsuit. Victims and their families can often speak with a lawyer for free and have their question answered without any obligation to hire an attorney to handle their case.


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