If you believe your NLRA rights have been violated, you may file a charge against an employer or a labor organization. You can find charge forms here. Please contact an information officer at your nearest Regional Office for assistance.
The NLRB receives about 20,000 to 30,000 charges per year from employees, unions and employers covering a range of unfair labor practices described in Section 8 of the Act.
Each charge is investigated by Board agents who gather evidence and may take affidavits from parties and witnesses. Their findings are evaluated by the Regional Director, and in certain novel or significant cases, reviewed by NLRB attorneys at the Division of Advice in Washington DC. Typically, a decision is made about the merits of a charge within 7 to 12 weeks, although certain cases can take much longer. During this period, the majority of charges are settled by the parties, withdrawn by the charging party, or dismissed by the Regional Director. Click here for charts and data.
When the NLRB investigation finds sufficient evidence to support the charge, every effort is made to facilitate a settlement between the parties. If no settlement is reached in a meritorious case, the agency issues a complaint. Common allegations against employers in complaints include threats, interrogations and unlawful disciplinary actions against employees for their union activity; promises of benefits to discourage unionization; and, in the context of collective bargaining relationships, refusals to provide information, refusals to bargain, and withdrawals of recognition. Common allegations against unions include failure to represent an employee and failure to bargain in good faith.
The issuance of a complaint leads to a hearing before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (unless there is a settlement). After issuing a complaint, the NLRB becomes a representative for the charging party throughout settlement discussions and the Board process. Board attorneys help gather and prepare materials, and keep the parties apprised of case developments.
It is illegal for an employer or union to retaliate against employees for filing charges or participating in NLRB investigations or proceedings.
Under its statute, the NLRB cannot assess penalties. The agency may seek make-whole remedies, such as reinstatement and backpay for discharged workers, and informational remedies, such as the posting of a notice by the employer promising to not violate the law.
While the case proceeds through the Board process, the Regional Director may petition the appropriate U.S. District Court for temporary injunction orders to restore the status quo where rights have been violated, under Section 10(j) of the Act. The General Counsel must first approve the petition and the Board must authorize it. If granted by the Court, an injunction may, among other things, require a party to return to bargaining, or reinstate unlawfully discharged employees, or stop the unlawful subcontracting of union jobs. Click here to see a list of 10(j) injunction activity, and see a map of 10(j) activity here.
Office of Appeals
Decisions to dismiss a charge may be appealed to the Office of Appeals in Washington D.C. within two weeks of the dismissal. The Office handles about 2000 cases a year. Each appeal is assigned to an attorney and a supervisor for a review of all documents in the case, including new information submitted by the charging party. All cases in which it is proposed to reverse the Regional Director's determination are presented to the General Counsel for decision.
Significant cases may be presented for General Counsel review even where the recommendation is to uphold the Regional determination. The Office may also remand cases to the regions for further investigation where necessary. Because such decisions are not reviewable in court, there is no further recourse for parties who believe that a charge has been unfairly dismissed.
For further information or for help in filing a charge, please contact an information officer at your nearest NLRB Regional Office.