Statement Of Attorney General's Office Regarding

This Office has received inquiries about the legal obligations of employers to accommodate employees’ requests to take time off to participate in activities scheduled for May1 recognizing the contributions of working immigrants to the national economy and local communities. Some businesses will be closing for the demonstrations, while others will remain open.

My office has received information that some employers are threatening to fire or take other action against employees who take time off for this purpose. There have been reports in the press that workers who attended previous demonstrations were fired solely for their attendance at those events.

Federal labor law protects every employee’s right to engage in concerted activities for "mutual aid and protection," including calling for change in existing laws to improve working conditions. The courts have held that participation by employees in demonstrations and rallies like those planned for May 1 are protected activities under that provision.

Employers may impose reasonable requirements needed to keep their businesses functioning, and employees must comply with those requirements. However, if adverse action, including discharge, is taken against employees solely because of their participation in these activities, the employer may be found to have violated the rights of those employees and could be subject to legal action.

Employers need to carefully consider what reasonable limitations on their employees’ participation are truly necessary to the functioning of their businesses. Employers and employees are urged to cooperate to avoid violations of law.