National Labor Relations Board: Walmart ‘Unlawfully Threatened’ Workers

The federal agency will pursue charges against the retail giant.

By Julianne Hing Nov 19, 2013

For months Walmart workers agitating and organizing for better wages have complained that those who speak out have been illegally disciplined and even fired from their jobs. On Monday the National Labor Relations Board announced that it agreed with them. The agency, which enforces federal labor law, said that Walmart workers’ complaints had merit and decided that it will pursue charges against the company.

In 13 states–California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington–Walmart "unlawfully threatened" or followed through with disciplinary actions or termination when workers protested or went on strike, both of which are legal activities. Separately, the NLRB found that in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas the company surveilled and punished workers as retaliation or even in anticipation of future worker organizing. And Walmart also illegally threatened workers when Walmart spokesperson David Tovar went on television and warned, "there would be consequences" for workers who didn’t show up to their Black Friday shifts last November.

"The Board’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: The company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs," Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work said in a statement.

The NLRB didn’t find merit in two other complaints against the company involving shift changes and moving protesters off Walmart property. The decision comes as more protests are expected in the coming week. This year’s Black Friday is next Friday.