Myths and Facts: “Right to Work” state

Employees here in Kingman are always talking about being threatened by their employer that they will be terminated because Arizona is a "Right to Work "state. I am dedicating this blog to those who are intimidated by their employer, so they know what their employee rights are.

A “Right to Work” law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, or to pay dues to a labor union. In other words, if you work in a Right to Work state, like Arizona, the employees form a union, you may not be fired if you decide not to join. Likewise, if you are a member of a union in a Right to Work state, and you decide to resign from the union, you may not be fired for that reason.

Here is how the State of Arizona defines “Right to Work” state:

Ariz. Const. art. XXVTitle 23. Labor Ariz.

Chapter 8. Labor Relations Article 1. Right to Work

ARTICLE 1. RIGHT TO WORK

No person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in a labor organization, nor shall the State or any subdivision thereof, or any corporation, individual or association of any kind enter into any agreement, written or oral, which excludes any person from employment or continuation of employment because of non-membership in a labor organization. (Addition approved election Nov. 5, 1946, eff. Nov. 25, 1946; amended November 30, 1982.)

Additional information can be viewed under ARS title 23-1301.

Facts About Right to Work:

1. If you work primarily in a Right to Work state you have the right to decline joining a union and you cannot be required to pay dues or an agency fee to the union unless you choose to join the union. This includes State or Local Government employees, Public School Teachers and College Professors.

2. If your employment takes place on Federal property, there may be an exception to number (1) above. This is a state specific issue.

3. All employees of the Federal Government, including Postal Service employees, by law are guaranteed the right to decline union membership. You cannot be required to pay dues or fees to a union, no matter where you work.

When employees and employers cross the line the “The Employment at Will” doctrine comes into play. “Employment at Will” means that employment is voluntary for both employees and employers. As an at-will employee, you may quit your job whenever and for whatever reason you want, usually without consequence. In turn, at-will employers may terminate you whenever and for whatever reason they want, usually without consequence. So any hiring that is presumed to be "at will"; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all," and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.”

As for downsizing , a company may terminate employees en masse. However, there are legal limitations upon the employer's ability to terminate without reason.

Several exceptions to the “Employment at Will” doctrine exist; especially if unlawful discrimination is involved and when the wrongful termination of an employee is suspected; then the employee’s rights are protected against wrongful termination under the following Federal labor laws: Affirmative Action under Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (amended by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990), Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Bankruptcy Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1991, Equal Pay Act of 1963 (Part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (nicknamed the No Fear Act), Older Workers’ Benefits Protection Act of 1990 (Amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967), Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (covered under sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964), Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, and Youth At Work.

a) Myth or Fact: An employer in a “Right to Work” state means they can terminate an employee for any reason without cause. Myth.

b) Myth or Fact: ”Right to Work” state means that you can be fired from your job without explanation, and they are intimidated when an employer says “You work in a “Right to Work state”, I can fire you for any reason!” Myth.

c) Myth or Fact: Do employer’s use “Right to Work” to their benefit to intimidate their employees or to create a hostile work environment for their employees? Fact.

d) Myth or Fact: Your employer has the right to administer their own drug test, rather than through a verifiable independent agency, such as a hospital, medical clinic. Myth and Fact.

e) Myth or Fact: The employer can terminate any employee that take his/hers breaks and lunches, even if it disrupts production. Myth.

Think about it.