NLRB May Prosecute Walmart For Alleged Retaliation Against Protesting Workers

(Photo: Twitter User @hanson_alan)

(Photo: Twitter User @hanson_alan)

For the last few years, a number of Walmart workers have pushed the nation’s largest retailer for higher wages and the right to unionize. During this time, some employees have alleged that management has retaliated against workers who have protested the store or walked off the job temporarily to strike. Today, the General Counsel for the federal National Labor Relations Board issued a statement saying he has investigated these claims and may have to prosecute the company.

The NLRB General Counsel, Richard Griffin, released a statement this afternoon saying his office had authorized complaints of workers’ rights violations after finding merits in several allegations filed with the NLRB. If no settlement is reached in these cases, his office will prosecute.

Among those instances in which his office found merit:
* Walmart stores in California and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012.
* Walmart stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.
* Walmart stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined, and/or terminated employees in anticipation of or in response to employees’ other protected concerted activities.

The General Counsel’s office also found there were some instances in which the allegations were without merit:
* Walmart stores in Illinois and Texas did not interfere with their employees’ right to strike by telling large groups of non-employee protestors to move from Walmart’s property to public property, pursuant to a lawful Solicitation and Distribution policy, where the groups contained only a small number of employees who either did not seek to stay on Walmart’s property or were permitted to remain without non-employee protesters.
* Walmart stores in California and Washington did not unlawfully change work schedules, disparately apply their policies, or otherwise coerce employees in retaliation for their exercise of statutory rights.

“Americans believe that we have the responsibility – and the right – to speak out against corporate abuses of workers, and this proves we’re finally being heard, and making kinks in Walmart’s armor,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work in a statement. “Customers, clergy and community members from across the country are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for better jobs and a stronger economy for all of us.”

Walmart has previously denied any system of retaliation or harassment of employees who protest. In Oct. 2012, a rep for the retailer brushed off Unfair Labor Practice complaints filed with the NLRB by saying they are “similar to lawsuits. Anyone can file them, regardless of whether it’s a valid claim or not. We disagree with those assertions.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.