NLRB Puts Labor Law at Your Fingertips

By: Koren Leonards

On August 30, 2013 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) launched a free mobile app, available in both Apple and Google App Stores, which gives information about the rights and obligations of employees, unions, and employers established under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).[1]  In the NLRB’s press release, Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce explained that “[t]he promise of the law can only be fulfilled when employers and employees understand their rights and obligations.  With this app, we are using 21st Century technology to inform and educate the public about the law and their rights.”[2]  Pearce stressed that American workers have expressed a need for more information concerning applicable labor laws; last year alone over 82,000 public inquiries involving workplace issues were received by the Board.[3]

The new app is part of the NLRB’s effort to directly educate America’s workforce with regards to the NLRA[4], and the Board plans to promote the app on Facebook, Twitter, and the NLRA homepage.[5]  The information available includes: the rights enforced by the NLRB, how to contact each regional office of the NLRB, and the process used by the NLRB for union representation elections.[6]  The Wall Street Journal reports that the NLRB also wants employees to know they can “lawfully bring joint grievances to their employees – with or without a union.”[7]

The release of this app appears to be part of the NLRB’s response to the refusal of two federal circuits to enforce a rule promulgated by the agency back in 2011.[8]  The NLRB passed a rule requiring private sector employers who are covered by the NLRA to post notices informing employees of their rights under the Act.[9]  Approximately six million employers would have been forced to comply under the rule.[10]  Both the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit ruled that the promulgation of the NLRB’s rule exceeded its statutory authority.[11]  The rule is not necessary to carry out the NLRB’s duty of enforcing the NLRA.[12]  As a result of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling in National Association of Manufacturers v. NLRB,[13] the rule “has no force or effect on employers.  The decision should have nationwide impact and no employer can now be required to post the NLRB’s notice.”[14]  The decision of the Fourth Circuit in Chamber of Commerce of U.S. v. NLRB[15] serves to support the previous ruling of the D.C. Circuit. [16]

The future of the NLRB’s posting requirement is uncertain, as there has been no indication that the NLRB will or will not seek a writ from the Supreme Court.[17] Since the two decisions the NLRB has continued its aggressive campaign to inform all parties, but especially workers, of their rights and obligations under the NLRA, and the new NLRB app is a step forward through the use of publicly favored technology.[18]  By providing American workers with a convenient, accessible medium to learn about their rights, the NLRB has put the power to seek help in each worker’s own hands.


[1] National Labor Relations Board, National Labor Relations Board Launches Mobile App (Aug. 30, 2013), http://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/news-releases/national-labor-relations-board-launches-mobile-app.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Seyfarth Shaw LLP, The NLRA: “There’s An App For That!”, Employer Labor Relations Blog (Aug. 30, 2013), http://www.employerlaborrelations.com/2013/08/30/the-nlra-theres-an-app-for-that/.

[5] Melanie Trottman, NLRB Rolls Out Labor Law App, Washington Wire,Wall Street Journal (Aug. 30, 2013, 12:43 PM), http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/30/nlrb-rolls-out-labor-law-app/.

[6] National Labor Relations Board, National Labor Relations Board Launches Mobile App (Aug. 30, 2013), http://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/news-releases/national-labor-relations-board-launches-mobile-app.

[7] Melanie Trottman, NLRB Rolls Out Labor Law App, Washington Wire,Wall Street Journal (Aug. 30, 2013, 12:43 PM), http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/30/nlrb-rolls-out-labor-law-app/.

[8] Ilyse Schuman, NLRB Launches Employee Rights App, Washington DC Employment Law Update (Aug. 30, 2013), http://www.dcemploymentlawupdate.com/2013/08/articles/labormanagement-relations/nlrb-launches-employee-rights-app/.

[9] Id.

[10] Maury Baskin & Gregory Brown, D.C. Circuit Invalidates NLRB’s Posting Rule, Labor Relations Counsel (May 8, 2013), http://www.laborrelationscounsel.com/agency-rulemaking/dc-circuit-invalidates-nlrbs-posting-rule/.

[11] Chamber of Commerce of U.S. v. N.L.R.B., 721 F.3d 152, 154 (4th Cir. 2013); National Ass’n of Mfrs. v. N.L.R.B., 717 F.3d 947, 967 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

[12] Maury Baskin & Gregory Brown, D.C. Circuit Invalidates NLRB’s Posting Rule, Labor Relations Counsel (May 8, 2013), http://www.laborrelationscounsel.com/agency-rulemaking/dc-circuit-invalidates-nlrbs-posting-rule/.

[13] National Ass’n of Mfrs. v. N.L.R.B., 717 F.3d 947, 967 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

[14] Maury Baskin & Gregory Brown, D.C. Circuit Invalidates NLRB’s Posting Rule, Labor Relations Counsel (May 8, 2013), http://www.laborrelationscounsel.com/agency-rulemaking/dc-circuit-invalidates-nlrbs-posting-rule/.

[15] Chamber of Commerce of U.S. v. N.L.R.B., 721 F.3d 152, 154 (4th Cir. 2013).

[16] Jerry Walters & Ryan Crosswell, Another Court Holds that the NLRB Lacked Authority to Require Employers to Post a Notice Informing Employees of Their Rights Under the NLRA, Labor Relations Counsel (July 9, 2013), http://www.laborrelationscounsel.com/agency-rulemaking/another-court-holds-that-the-nlrb-lacked-authority-to-require-employers-to-post-a-notice-informing-e/.

[17] Maury Baskin & Gregory Brown, D.C. Circuit Invalidates NLRB’s Posting Rule, Labor Relations Counsel (May 8, 2013), http://www.laborrelationscounsel.com/agency-rulemaking/dc-circuit-invalidates-nlrbs-posting-rule/.

[18] Seyfarth Shaw LLP, The NLRA: “There’s An App For That!”, Employer Labor Relations Blog (Aug. 30, 2013), http://www.employerlaborrelations.com/2013/08/30/the-nlra-theres-an-app-for-that/.

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