Monday, October 31, 2016

Feds publish a Halloween trick for employers


Have you seen Worker.gov? It is a how-to manual for employees to file charges with the full gauntlet of federal labor-and-employment agencies―EEOC, NLRB, OSHA, and DOL Wage-and-Hour Division.


Each of the four agencies has its own list of employee rights.
  • You have the right to be treated equally (EEOC).
  • You have the right to engage with others to improve wages and working conditions (NLRB).
  • You have the right to a safe and healthy work environment (OSHA).
  • You have the right to be paid (DOL).
If you drill down further, each agency has its own list of specific topics.

Let’s examine my favorite whipping boy, the NLRB, as an example.

Worker.gov lists the following topics as examples of rights of engagement with others to improve wages and working conditions:
  • I am being prevented from engaging with others to improve my working conditions.
  • My boss threatened to fire us if we vote for the union.
  • I am being retaliated against for supporting an effort to bring in a union to improve my work situation.
  • I can’t get hired because the industry knows me as a union supporter.
  • We formed a union and are trying to bargain with management, but they refuse to meet with us.
  • I brought complaints to our union steward and/or foreman about the crew not having adequate safety equipment and they retaliated.
  • We are afraid to talk to one another about our wages and working conditions because our employer has a handbook rule prohibiting release of confidential information.
  • I sent an email to my co-workers during break time about seeking a raise and my employer suspended me for unauthorized use of its computer system.
  • I was fired for chatting about my supervisor with other coworkers on Facebook.
Each is hyperlinked to a general informational page, which includes a link to another informational page on how to file a claim, which includes a non-retaliation reminder and a link to contact info for each NLRB regional office.

The pages for the EEOC, OSHA, and DOL offer similar info for each, including the page explaining to employees how to file claims.

While this information is accurate, I wonder why these agencies feel the need to troll for business. I’ve had EEOC charges sit with investigators for as long as 18 months without a resolution, and I’ve had OSHA investigators tell me that they are so busy investigating complaints that they do not have the time to sit at their desk to close out files. There is nothing more frustrating than having to send an email to a client that reads, “You know that charge that’s been hanging over your head for the past six months. Well, tack on another month; nothing new to report.” Wouldn’t the federal government better spend its resources handling the cases it has than looking for new cases that it may not even be able to handle?

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