It’s that special time of year at Walmart. Shoppers are geared up for Black Friday savings, employees are anxiously awaiting their Christmas bonuses, and management is dealing with NLRB charges that the company illegally disciplined and fired employees over strikes and protests.
Well, the holiday season isn’t a winner for everybody.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled on Nov. 17 that Walmart violated workers’ rights through activities against about 100 employees in over a dozen states. In addition, the NLRB claimed it found evidence that a company spokesman appeared on national television and threatened employees taking part in the protests.
The NLRB authorized the filing of a complaint but did not do so on Nov. 17. Instead, the board opted to let Walmart and its employees, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, have the chance to come to a settlement.
For its part, Walmart denies the accusations. Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in a statement, “This is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified.”
Last year, a union-backed group called Our Walmart organized protests at over 1,000 Walmart stores in 46 states, asking for higher wages. The protests took place on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year. In response to the planned protests, Walmart spokesman David Tovar said on CBS News, “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job, and if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.”
According to The New York Times, the scope of this case could provide precedent to future disputes between labor and employers. “It’s a major case in terms of the number of stores,” said James J. Brudney, a professor at Fordham University Law School, to the Times. “And it has a national scope in terms of unlawful threats and terminations.”
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