New York “Captive Audience” Ban Goes Into Effect
This past September, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that effectively bans so-called “captive audience” meetings from being conducted by employers. These meetings are often seen as an anti-union tactic intended to prevent employees from exercising their labor rights. Without this tool at their disposal, employers will need to resort to other means to curtail unionization at their workplaces.
What Are Captive Audience Meetings?
In simple terms, captive audience meetings are a type of meeting held by employers that are for the “primary purpose” of communicating the employer’s political or religious beliefs. These meetings are typically held during business hours on an employer’s property, meaning that they can make attendance mandatory. While these may theoretically be held for any purpose, they are most often used to communicate to employees about their distaste of labor organizing and unionization.
Why Do Employers Use Captive Audience Meetings?
Employers use captive audience meetings as a way of leveraging their unique position over their employees. While labor organizers must communicate with their fellow employees on relatively even terms, employers can hold the threat of formal discipline or other professional consequences over employees who fail to attend these meetings. This gives employers an advantage at any point where their workforce seems like it might be considering unionization.
What Does This Ban Do?
This ban makes it illegal for employers to force employees to attend captive audience meetings, whether to discuss labor issues or any other political or religious matter. It also makes it illegal for employers to fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise penalize an employee for refusing to take part in these communications. There are some exceptions to this law, however, such as religious corporations (such as churches or religious charities) being exempt for the purposes of communicating religious speech.
What Does This Mean for Employees?
This means that employees can no longer be legally punished for refusing to participate in captive audience meetings, or for ignoring employer communications related to labor issues or other political matters. It also means that employers will need to find other methods to communicate their messages to employees who might be considering unionization. In this way, employees will now have fewer obstacles should they attempt to engage in labor organizing.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 43 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.