What Should I do if I Have a Labor Dispute With My Employer?

December 15, 2013

In an ideal work environment, all the employees would receive fair compensation and fringe benefits. This would include a given amount of paid time off. While most employees are typically happy with what they receive, every so often there is a disagreement of benefit terms. This is known as a labor dispute; here we will look at what you should do if you should find yourself with a labor dispute.

Talk to Supervisor or Human Resources

If you need something basic, such as a raise or increase in vacation time, it is easiest to talk to your immediate supervisor. Oftentimes this will get the job done especially if you are on good terms. If the supervisor will not listen or denies it, work your way up the chain of command ending with Human Resources. If you were shorted money from your paycheck, go directly to either Payroll or Human Resources. This is usually an error rather than intentional.

File a Labor Law Dispute

For cases that cannot or will not be handled by the employer, file a Labor Law dispute. The vast majority of times you will not need a lawyer or even have to appear in court to file this type of lawsuit. While the guidelines are federal, the vast majority of disputes are handled at state level. If you are in a union, you are almost always forbidden from entering a dispute without the union; this is breaking the agreement you have with them as the union will dispute labor violations on your behalf. Do a little research to become familiar with where and how to file a dispute in your area. When you file a complaint it is also necessary to provide any documentation or other proof that will support your complaint. While this is being reviewed, you may be required to do certain activities, such as attend a mediation session with your employer.


If you are part of a union, you may find yourself part of a strike if the disagreement is large or continues on for a long period of time. This is an organized time of protesting; no union workers report for work until the dispute is settled. This has historically been somewhat effective as it slams the company’s productivity to a screeching halt. The employers are often more willing to listen when profit is not being made. However, other times, employers have fired the entire union strike and hired new employees. Unless the situation is out of control, it is usually best to avoid a strike and to contact an attorney instead.

Labor disputes are somewhat common. However, most can be resolved by open communication with the employers. The vast majority of times it is simply miscommunication. However, there are some employers who will take advantage of their employees in the name of profit. In these cases, there are federal laws and state agencies that will ensure that the employee is getting fair treatment and compensation. Whether you belong to a union or are fighting for yourself, the laws and fair treatment are the same.

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