The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is taking advantage of 21st Century technology to reinforce its message to employers and employees by adding a mobile app to its toolkit of resources that already includes a Twitter account and a Facebook page. On August 30, 2013, NLRB announced the launch of its new mobile app, available free of charge for iPhone and Android users. According to the NLRB’s press release, “the app provides employers, employees and unions with information regarding their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees the right of workers to join together – with or without a union – to improve the terms and conditions of the workplace. The goal of the NLRB’s app is to help employees and employers understand their respective rights and obligations under that law, using up-to-date technology. The app provides contact information for NLRB regional offices across the country, and details the process used in elections to determine whether employees wish to be collectively represented.
This app follows the Department of Labor’s 2011 “timesheet app” that allows workers to track independently the hours they work to determine whether overtime wages are owed. On-line and mobile device apps have expanded the availability of information to which individuals have access, and have increased the types and volume of documentation relevant to and discoverable in employment-related lawsuits.
According to NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, the NLRB received more than 82,000 public inquiries last year regarding workplace issues: “It is clear that the American people have questions about the law. . . [and] [t]his app can help provide the answers.” It is unclear as to whether the app was formulated to address specific questions, or simply to provide another avenue for individuals to access information currently available on the NLRB’s other electronic sites.
There has been some speculation that the app is being offered as a response to the Board’s difficulties in gaining support for its“notice posting rule” that was invalidated by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June of this year. That rule would have required employers to post notices that provided information to union and non-union employees regarding their rights in the workplace under the NLRA. Now, there’s an app for that . . . .