Employee concerted activity : a protected status under section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act
Kehoe, Gerard J.
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This thesis is an exploration of the rights granted employees under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. The purpose is to provide a clear understanding of how the National Labor Relations Board and the courts are interpreting Section 7's clause which protects employees who engage in "concerted activities for mutual aid or protection." The thesis presents an objective review of the case law and is designed to aid practitioners in evaluating and dealing with situations that they may face involving employee rights under Section 7. The thesis provides a solid foundation for understanding the scope of Section 7's protection. The analysis begins with a review of the rights granted employees by Section 7. The investigation then centers on explaining how the Board and the courts have interpreted the vague wording of Section 7's "concerted activities for mutual aid or protection" clause. In this investigation it is shown how the conflicting definitions of the term "concerted" affect the outcome of employee rights. The Board's and the court's varying decisions and their reasoning behind those decisions are provided to enable the reader to evaluate and understand this unsettled area of the law. The scope of Section 7's mutual aid or protection clause is examined next. The common areas of employee-employer confrontation are analyzed to again provide guidance in understanding how the Board and the courts are interpreting the vague language of Section 7. Not only are the common areas of employee-employer problems explored but the outer scope of the mutual aid or protection language is also examined. Finally, the thesis examines how employees lose their otherwise protected status under the Act. Although the National Labor Relations Act lists no specific requirement that employee activity be reasonable, the reviewing tribunals have concluded that employees may engage in concerted activities outside Section 7's literal protection. The thesis concludes by recommending that a better application of the Act might be achieved by deleting the term concerted from Section 7 It is the writer's belief that the deletion of the term would better carry out the spirit of the Act by protecting all employees regardless of their degree of formal organization.