Regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that learn of an apparent violation of federal safety and health or wage and hour standards have been directed to advise the party providing the information of his or her right to file complaints with the Department of Labor (DOL).

The instruction was in an August 8th memorandum to the regional offices from NLRB Associate General Counsel Anne Purcell.  She said occasions could arise where a witness may reveal information suggesting an employer may have violated an OSHA standard or the fair wage, recordkeeping and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  FLSA is administered by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).  In such instances, the NLRB agent should notify the party involved or the appropriate representative of the right to file complaints with the appropriate DOL agency.

Such occurrences might include when an employer requires an employee to work under unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, fails to properly pay an employee for hours worked or retaliates against an employee who complains about a perceived violation, Purcell said.

The NLRB attorney also stated that if a region learns during processing of an unfair labor practice charge that OSHA or WHD is handling a parallel investigation into a violation of the statutes they administer, the region should coordinate case processing with DOL through the local DOL Regional Solicitor.

Purcell said NLRB regional personnel are not expected to be experts in OSHA or FLSA standards, and are to act only when they believe a possible violation has occurred.  If desired, regional management may consider partnering with OSHA or WHD to develop training vehicles for NLRB agents on the statutes the two agencies administer, she added.

The memorandum, OM 14-77, is intended to supplement a May 21 memorandum, OM 14-60, announcing NLRB’s collaboration with OSHA.  Under the program, OSHA will inform individuals who file untimely complaints of retaliation with the agency of their right to file an unfair labor practice charge over the same conduct with NLRB.