Over the past few years, we have seen how the pro-union, Democrat-controlled National Labor Relations Board has given new meaning to many terms of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Democrat lawmakers now seek to pile onto the drastic changes to the Act. The recently proposed bill, titled the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act, seeks to tip the scales even further in the favor of unions.
The proposed changes are far-reaching and include the following:
- Providing workers with triple damages if unlawfully terminated for protected activity;
- Establishing a private right of action to sue companies in federal court;
- Civil penalties of up to $50,000 for companies that commit unfair labor practices;
- Doubling civil penalties for repeat violators of the Act;
- $10,000 per day fines for companies that fail to comply with Board orders;
- Mandating that the Board seek preliminary injunctions from federal courts when an employer is accused of unfair labor practices and a Board official is suspicious that such practices have occurred; and
- Permitting company officers and directors to be individually penalized for labor violations.
As this list demonstrates, the main focus of the bill is to establish additional penalties for companies and to increase already existing penalties. Congress is currently controlled by Republicans, which provides some reassurance that this drafted bill will probably never actually become law. Nonetheless, this bill is making its way through Congress.
Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.