This section provides an overview of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), or “the Act,” which is the federal law that governs the relationship between most employers and unions in the private sector. This Chapter also discusses situations in which the NLRA imposes obligations on non-union employers.

The federal agency that enforces and administers the Act is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board). Over the last several years, the Board has issued a number of decisions that greatly expanded what are considered “protected concerted activities” under the Act.

These include decisions limiting the ability of employers to keep workplace investigations confidential, and making it difficult to draft a social media policy that makes sense from a business standpoint and also will withstand scrutiny by the NLRB.

The composition of the Board, and its agenda, often change with a new Presidential Administration. This year has seen some significant changes, including new general counsel and new board members. And while there have been some changes in standards affecting employers under the NLRA, many issues remain in flux. Therefore, many of the decisions referenced in this chapter came about under the Obama administration, and at the time of publication, still remain decisions that employers must be aware of and adhere to.

Labor law is a dynamic area and it is always difficult to know how to respond to newly-issued Board decisions, especially when the decisions make fundamental changes in the law.

  • As a result, an employer that finds itself facing a union organizing effort, a claim for violation of employee rights under the NLRA, or who otherwise comes to the attention of the NLRB, should seek assistance from counsel experienced in labor relations matters.​


CalChamber thanks Seyfarth Shaw LLP for its contributions to the Labor Relations in Private Employment chapter.

Joshua Henderson is a partner in Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s San Francisco office and is the national Vice Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employee Relations Group. He represents management in various industries in a broad range of labor and employment litigation and counseling. Josh is a trusted advisor and experienced litigator on traditional labor law matters. His practice includes Board litigation, collective bargaining labor arbitrations, strikes and secondary boycotts, elections, and labor due diligence for corporate transactions. Josh’s bio can be found at More information on the firm can be found on Seyfarth’s website.