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If I file charge with NLRB against former employer, an employer can retaliate against me?

Lakewood, WA |

I am about to file a charge with local NLRB,When I asked NLRB attorney if I would be protected against any type of retaliation?She read the handbook to me and said this
"It is illegal for an employer or union to retaliate against employees for filing charges or participating in NLRB investigations or proceedings."
It does not say if former employees are protected or not?
I am worried about lawsuit claiming that I damaged their business because I talked bad about them not only to my colleagues but also outside people.(These people were employees of the stores at which we were sent to do our work).
I talked bad about them 18 months ago, when they found out they did talk to me about that but not action was taken against me, now can they suddenly bring lawsuit because of NLRB charge?

I have to clarify...I said I talked bad about them (english is no tmy first language) no...actually I asked one of the managers at big chain store out of curiosity as to why my former employer is allowed to send their emplyees to work in their stores even though that work can be done by store employees themselves. I was just curious and I added in my opinion that store employees should do that work themselves as they are more familiar with their stores and policies compared third party companies/ employees.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

In addition to the things pointed out by my colleague's response, Washington law provides an additional safeguard against retaliation by lawsuit for a person's reporting to governmental agencies. Washington has an "Anti-SLAPP" law, which stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. If a person or entity sues in retaliation for a person engaging in protected speech -- which includes reporting to governmental agencies like the NLRB -- the sued person has specific remedies available under the law to get the case dismissed quickly, get an award of attorneys' fees and costs, and get an award of a $10,000 statutory penalty in his or her favor. Lawsuits for defamation (libel/slander) and tortious interference (hurting a business because of certain actions or speech) are most commonly the areas in which SLAPP litigation takes place.

You should not be intimidated into not filing a good faith complaint with a governmental entity. Protections exist in the law for you if you do make that good faith complaint. If you have engaged in actual wrongful conduct, however, these protections will not eliminate possible liability for that conduct. That determination will hinge on the facts of what you said to whom, when, and where. Consulting with a lawyer can help you sort that out.

The relevant provisions of Washington's Anti-SLAPP law are at RCW 4.24.500 - RCW 4.24.525. I've provided a link to the first of these laws below. You can click through the others at the top of the page that opens when you click on this link. I hope that this information is helpful to you. Good luck!

Benjamin Nivison is an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington State. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mr. Nivison, nor does it constitute specific advice for your particular legal matter. The information provided in this communication is for general reference and informational purposes only, and therefore should not be relied on as legal advice. Legal issues are by their nature complex, and any person with a legal question should fully consult with a qualified attorney.

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Asker

Posted

Thanks, last I worked for this employer was about 18 months ago. I was never disciplined during employer or after employment. But since I filed NLRB complaint am worried that they will be mad and find some thing to sue me even though I I did not anything wrong. But they may claim I did wrong and sue me..so I have to hire a lawyer to defend me even though I did not do anything wrong and that is what am worried about. They have plenty of money and power ...I can't financially afford to defend. Can anti slapp provision apply if they bring a bogus lawsuit after me filing NLRB charge?

Benjamin T G Nivison

Benjamin T G Nivison

Posted

Sometimes we can drive ourselves a little crazy with worry over "what if" questions like this. If you haven't been sued yet, and didn't do anything that you think might give them legitimate complaints against you, you probably don't have much to worry about. A NRLB complaint, if made in good faith by you (meaning you have a good faith reason to believe that the allegations you made are accurate and well-founded), should not lead to a lawsuit. If it does, you may have some of the remedies I noted in my response above; there is a good chance that the Anti-SLAPP law would apply, depending on the allegations made against you. The good news is that in the event you are sued, many lawyers may be willing to work on your behalf without payment up front or on an hourly basis, due to the availability of attorney fees under the Anti-SLAPP statute. That is one of the important protections of that law, as it helps folks access lawyers that might not otherwise be able to afford to do so.

Asker

Posted

Thanks ..this is a relief.

Posted

Keep in mind that retaliation in terms of employment usually constitutes taking a negative employment action against an employee because they have filed a complaint, complained of discrimination, etc. The law protects you from that type of improper retaliation. If, however, your former employer (FM) has a legitimate claim against you (for defaming them) that they could have brought against you 18 months ago there is nothing barring them from bringing a legitimate action against you now.

Key principles are that its not retaliation if they are pursuing a legitimate claim; it is retaliation if the are taking an illegal action in response to a legitimate claim by you.

Providing this general response does not create an attorney client relationship.

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Posted

But if the bring demaing or other type of lawsuit against me now, after 18 months ...mainly after me filing a NLRB charge ...can't be considered retailiation because in this 18 months they did not even verbally warned me or write up. Also what is the statue of limitation in WA state for defamation law suit?

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