Kansas City workers scored a small but significant victory recently. The National Labor Relations Board’s three-member panel ruled that a local barbecue restaurant used an unfair labor practice against its employees who joined in a one-day strike during the summer of 2013.

According to a complaint that the Workers’ Organizing Committee filed on behalf of the workers, approximately a fourth of the MIssouri restaurant’s employees told their supervisor that they planned to participate in a day-long strike on July 30, 2013. They also let the supervisor know that they would be back at work the following day. The workers were participating in an organized attempt by fast-food employees in Kansas City to be paid a higher hourly wage.

After their participation in the strike, the business’s owner informed his employees that they would no longer get a free meal during their work shift. The owner alleged that the meals were discontinued not due to the workers striking but because management had decided weeks earlier to end the practice, in part due to complaints from customers.

The NLRB panel sided with an earlier decision by an administrative law judge, who found that the employee benefit ended due to the workers’ participation in the one-day strike. The administrative law judge sided with the workers, ruling that the owner failed to provide evidence to document his claim.

In the victory for employee rights, the owner has to reinstate the free meal benefit for the workers. He must also post a notice that reminds workers that they are entitled to a right to unionize.

Despite this positive outcome, not all employment complaints are resolved satisfactorily for workers. If you face retaliation from owners or managers due to union activities or illegal discrimination in the workplace, you may need to contact an employment law attorney for resolution.

Source: KCUR, “Gates & Sons Can’t Cut Benefits After Strike, National Labor Relations Board Says” Elle Moxley, Sep. 17, 2014