Nonunion Employees Striking – How to Respond

A National General Strike has been announced for February 17, 2017 as a “peaceful display of resistance and solidarity” to protest the Trump Administration’s policies. This “strike” poses thorny legal issues for nonunion employers that are unaccustomed to dealing with “striking employees.” Purely political protests, including walking off the job and calling out, can be protected if the purpose of the protest is to impact their interests as employees through the political process. However, it is not at all clear that the National General Strike has anything to do with employment policies, and it appears to be directed to protests of the Trump administration generally.

Why does it matter? If these actions are protected, then an employee cannot be disciplined or assessed attendance points for calling out or walking out in order to participate in the National General Strike. If the purpose of the strike is unrelated to employees’ interest in the workplace, then the call-out or walk-out is not protected, and the employer may assess attendance points or discipline. Repeated call outs and walk outs are unprotected, and employees can be disciplined for repeated intermittent strikes. We recommend consulting experienced labor counsel before taking disciplinary action or assessing attendance points against any employee who participates in the National General Strike.

Baker Donelson

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