On August 25, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new rule requiring private-sector employers to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This new rule applies to almost all private-sector employers—including those with a non-union workforce.

Starting on January 31, 2012, employers must display an 11-inch-by-17-inch notice "in conspicuous places ... including all places where notices to employees concerning personnel rules or policies are customarily posted." Employers must also distribute the notice through email or on an internal or external website, if the employer regularly communicates similar notices and policies through such means. Additionally, employers must post the notice in other languages if at least 20% of the workforce is not proficient in English.

The NLRB enacted the rule based on its belief that many employees are unaware of their rights under the NLRA. Thus, among other things, the notice must inform employees of their rights to:

  • "Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment"
  • "Form, join or assist a union"
  • "Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions"
  • "Discuss your wages and benefits and other terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union"
  • "Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union"
  • "Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing"
  • "Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union"

The notice must also inform employees that it is illegal for an employer to:

  • "Prohibit you from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms"
  • "Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity"
  • "Fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity"
  • "Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them"
  • "Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support"
  • "Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances"
  • "Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so"

The NLRB has provided posters, available for downloading and printing here:

Posters are also available for free in any one of the NLRB’s 52 regional offices.

Several lawsuits have been filed seeking to enjoin the enforcement of the new rule, on the grounds that the NLRB has exceeded its statutory authority in promulgating the rule. Moreover, members of Congress have recently introduced bills, which, if signed into law, would repeal the new rule. Employers should be prepared, absent an injunction of the new rule by a court, to comply with the posting requirement by January 31, 2012.