Labor Relations Glossary

Glossary of Labor Relations Terminology -- These terms have been gathered from 

Agency Shop
An agreement between an employer and a union that eligible employees who elect to not join the union will be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

A form of dispute resolution in which the parties agree that a neutral third-party arbitrator will hear each party’s case and decide the outcome.

Bargaining Unit
A group of employees represented by a union in a workplace.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification
A BFOQ allows an employer to discriminate when job requirements are specific to a certain sex, religion, or national origin only. The rules governing BFOQ’s are strict and such exceptions are rare but would apply, for example, to a business seeking to hire females to model women’s clothing.

Captive Audience
Applied to the workplace, this term usually refers to a mandatory meeting at which the employer presents their perspective on a topic to employees.

Collective Bargaining
A right established by the National Labor Relations Act, collective bargaining is a negotiation process where employers and a unit of employees (usually a union) will reach agreement on wages, hours, and working conditions.

Collective Bargaining Agreement
The contract created between the union and the employer through the bargaining process.

Comparable Worth
Jobs that use similar skills, produce similar products, or have a similar outcome for the business. The comparability of jobs is often used in legal cases to determine equal (or unequal) pay.

Compensable Time
Any time spent doing work that is for the benefit of the employer, whether or not the work is done on the employer’s premises.

Disparate Impact
Discrimination that occurs when an employer’s actions or policies have unequal consequences that adversely affect certain populations. An employer that requires job candidates be able to lift 100 pounds, when lifting that weight is not an essential component of the job, would likely have a disparate impact on job seekers who are female or who have disabilities.

Earnings Statement
A document that lists what you have been paid during a specific period of time.

In New York State, unless you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you or your employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason. This reason can be a good reason, a bad reason, or there may be no reason at all.

Good Faith Bargaining
The duty of negotiating parties to meet at reasonable times and have a willingness to reach an agreement.

Hostile Work Environment
Results from conditions in a workplace that make someone feel uncomfortable or offended. Such conditions may include the display of pornography, the use of demeaning terms of speech, sexually explicit gestures, offensive language or touching.

In collective bargaining, impasse occurs when labor and management cannot reach agreement on a term or provision of the contract. In some cases, labor and management will bring in a third party arbitrator or mediator to help the parties reach agreement.

Independent Contractor
A worker hired for a specific period of time, for a specific task not usually performed by the employer. Independent Contractors are not considered employees and are therefore not eligible for many of the protections granted workers by federal laws (FMLA, FLSA, ADA, etc).

A voluntary process that involves bringing in a third party to assist with negotiations or other labor-management disputes.

This occurs when an employer treats a regular employee as an Independent Contractor, denying him or her the rights of an employee.

Holding a second job on the side in addition to a regular full-time job.

Protected Class
A group of persons covered by anti-discrimination law and provisions. Race, gender, religion, disability, genetic information, age and nationality are federally protected classes. New York State also protects workers on the basis of sexual orientation, marital and family status, and domestic violence status. and

Quid Pro Quo
A type of sexual harassment whereby a person (usually a supervisor or manager) demands a sexual favor in exchange for something else, such as a promotion.

Reasonable Accommodation
Typically done to accommodate workers with disabilities or those with religious obligations, a reasonable accommodation is an adjustment to a job, the workday, or the work environment that allows a person to perform a function for the business.

Any adverse or negative employment action an employer takes because an employee chooses to exercise rights under a federal or state law.

A system whereby workers who have been employed for a longer period of time are granted better job security or higher wages or other benefits.

Sexual Harassment
Bullying, abuse, disparate treatment, or actions by an employer, client/customer, or co-worker that is sexual in nature.

Undue Hardship
A practice, policy, or rule that adversely impacts the employer’s day to day operations and business.

Unemployment Insurance
A wage-replacement benefit provided to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own.

A recognized organization that represents workers’ interests in collective bargaining and the enforcement of a collective bargaining agreement.

Union Shop
A business or workplace that has signed a union security agreement. A worker employed in a union shop must pay union dues even if he or she does not wish to join the union.


You can access a complete labor relations glossary in English here: