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Supervisor Fired for Refusing to Name Names
Written by Erin Johansson   
April 21, 2008

I’ve read countless National Labor Relations Board cases involving employers who suppress employees’ rights by using supervisors to do their dirty work.  With their close contact and influence over employees, supervisors can be more effective than upper-level management in muzzling collective action.  Yet in one recent case, supervisor Barbara Lockerman refused to reveal the names of her employees who protested the working conditions at the Texas Dental Association.  She was fired for this act of solidarity.

The National Labor Relations Act, in addition to guaranteeing the right to form unions, protects workers’ rights to “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”  In March 2006, a group of Texas Dental Association employees invoked that right to collective action by meeting to address their problems at work, including alleged sexual harassment and unsafe conditions in their building.  Supervisor Lockerman attended part of the meeting.  The staff then had a sympathetic member of the Association’s Board of Directors present the employer with a petition requesting that it address these problems.  Fearing retaliation, the employees used aliases. 

Upon receipt of the petition, the Association demanded that Lockerman reveal the names of the employees who attended the meeting.  She refused, and they fired her.  They also examined the hard drives of the employees and fired Nathan Clark after they determined that the petition originated from his computer.

Last week, an administrative law judge ruled that the Texas Dental Association illegally fired Clark for exercising his rights to collective action, and that it also illegally fired Lockerman for refusing to violate the law by revealing the workers involved. 

On behalf of workers everywhere, thank you Barbara Lockerman!