By Doug Cunningham
The National Labor Relations Board says there's merit in the labor law violations charges filed by Tara Zoumer against We Work. The NLRB says office leasing start-up company violated worker rights.
WeWork broke labor law, according to the NLRB , by firing Zoumer when she used legally protected labor rights. Zoumer refused to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. That arbitration clause stripped workers of their rights to go to the NLRB or to court to allege labor violations.
The labor board says WeWork's use of that arbitration clause is itself illegal.
Zoumer says she's thankful that the NLRB is investigating WeWork.
[Tara Zoumer]: "I've never actually understood my rights as a citizen so much until this experience. They're so important when they are threatened. And people do need to know that they can stand up for themselves in the work environment and really for their lives.
Inform yourself as best you possibly can on your basic rights as an employee. There are resources out there to get help. You should never have to give up your constitutional rights."
WeWork fired Zoumer after she refused to sign a forced arbitration agreement that took away her rights to seek redress in court for any labor violations at the company. Zoumer is gratified that the NLRB found merit in her charges that WeWork is violating labor law.
[Tara Zoumer]: "It's a huge relief to feel like real change is actually possible. So to see that there's been merit found to some of the charges - to most of the charges - is really a big relief and a push in the right direction."
Zoumer says the NLRB will offer a proposed settlement to WeWork.
[Tara Zoumer]: "The NLRB will be providing WeWork with a possible settlement, and that will include repealing the arbitration clause, which is unlawful. We don't expect they will do that. So if that happens we will go to trial and there will be an actual case."
Zoumer is grateful that the National Labor Relations Board exists to take cases like hers.
[Tara Zoumer]: "I'm really thankful that it is there. And the process is not difficult. Anyone can bring a charge against an employer. And so I recommend that if you see something say something. Thats a common phrase we hear!"
Zoumer is determined to continue her fight for justice.
[Tara Zoumer]: "I feel like an ant picking a fight with a shoe, but I think the colony matters as far as the ants are concerned. So I don't really think about why I'm doing it anymore as much as just knowing it's important and taking it one day at a time because that's really all you can do."