Labor Relations 101: What is protected concerted activity?

English: Workers and their supporters rallied ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is protected concerted activity? 

Protected concerted activity is a very popular search topic on the blog.  HR practitioners are looking this up more and more, so here is the precise definition of what consitiutes protected concerted activity, straight off the NLRB website.

Is the activity concerted?

Generally, this requires two or more employees acting together to improve wages or working conditions, but the action of a single employee may be considered concerted if he or she involves co-workers before acting, or acts on behalf of others.

Does it seek to benefit other employees?

Will the improvements sought – whether in pay, hours, safety, workload, or other terms of employment – benefit more than just the employee taking action?  Or is the action more along the lines of a personal gripe, which is not protected?

Is it carried out in a way that causes it to lose protection?

Reckless or malicious behavior, such as sabotaging equipment, threatening violence, spreading lies about a product, or revealing trade secrets, may cause concerted activity to lose its protection

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