NLRB Narrows Its View of What Constitutes Protected Concerted Activity

January 25, 2019

The National Labor Relations Board recently overturned an Obama-era ruling and reaffirmed a pair of 1980s decisions that determined individual employee complaints do not qualify as concerted activity solely because they are carried out in the presence of other employees and a supervisor.

In a 3 to 1 ruling, the NLRB declared “the fact that a statement is made at a meeting, in a group setting or with other employees present will not automatically make the statement concerted activity."

The case involved a skycap at Kennedy International Airport who was discharged for complaining in the presence of other skycaps and a supervisor about not being tipped and included the word "we" in his statement.

Going forward:  The NLRB appears to be prepared to further clarify when employee statements are considered protected activity when it highlighted three other Obama Board rulings cases that “arguably conflict” with long-standing precedent.