What is a Right-to-Work State?

Submitted by rachel on

A right to work state is one that has passed legislation guaranteeing that no one can be made to join a union or pay dues or fees as a condition of their employment. All States have the right to enact these laws under Section14 (b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Where states have these right-to-work laws in place it is the employee's choice whether or not to join a union and pay the dues, despite the fact that all workers are protected by the negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Employers who employ workers in states with right-to-work laws are prohibited by law from forcing its employees to join a union or make union membership or the paying of dues a condition of employment.

What Is a Right-to-Work State?

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that states public-sector unions may not require government employees to pay agency fees. This means the Supreme Court's ruling made all states right-to-work states for public sector employees. However, the following 27 states have right-to-work laws

  • Alabama;
  • Arizona;
  • Arkansas;
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Do I Have a Case Against My Employer?

Under right-to-work rules, employees may have the chance to file a lawsuit against their employer. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may or may not be able to file a lawsuit.

Examples of Employer Conduct Which Violates The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

  • threatening an employee that  job loss is likely  if the employee votes for a union;
  • transferring, terminating and allocating employees more difficult work tasks because they took part in union or protected concerted activity;
  • transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult job tasks, or punishing employees because they filed unfair labor practice charges or participated in an investigation conducted by the NLRB;
  • threatening to close a business if employees choose a union to represent them;
  • promising benefits to employees to discourage them from seeking union support.

Every situation is unique so if yours differs from the ones mentioned above, you may still have a case.

Filing a Case

Before filing a case you should collect any supporting material you may have, such as applicable HR records, employee handbooks, memos, emails, etc., including:

  • evidence of all dates and times.
  • specifics of what happened.
  • locations where you have received threats, as well as any witnesses to such threats.

An attorney may be able to help you get your claim on track and can gather supporting evidence and documentation. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to get connected with an independent attorney who subscribes to the website.

Additional Resources


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