Employee Rights Act Backgrounder

*Updated 4/19/23*

Click here to download the backgrounder. 

Bill name: Employee Rights Act (ERA), H.R. 2700, S.B. 1201
Sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Sponsored by Rick Allen (R-GA)

The Employee Rights Act boosts the rights of workers and modernizes federal labor laws. The legislation guarantees the right to a secret ballot in union elections, provides new privacy protections, gives workers a yearly opportunity to decide if they want to opt-in to fund union political spending, provides legal clarity for small business owners and gig workers, and more. The ERA was introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA).

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Sen. Scott said, “Some politicians are backing labor policies that benefit government regulators, union bosses and other special-interest groups. It’s time to put workers back in the driver’s seat.” Scott said the Employee Rights Act “protects workers, supports small-business owners and encourages innovation.”

  1. Right to a secret ballot
    The right to a secret ballot vote in union elections is guaranteed. A secret ballot is critical to reduce the opportunity for workers to be exposed to union organizing intimidation tactics.  But for far too long, some workers have been exposed to deceptive and coercive practices in union organizing campaigns that do not have secret ballot elections. A secret ballot vote avoids a union practice known as “card check,” when workers may be pressed to sign a union card at their workplace, home, or in the community.
  2. Privacy protections
    Under current law workers do not have the option to opt-out of having their personal contact information – home address, phone numbers, and email address – given to an organizing union. The ERA would change that.  Employees would be able to select which one piece of contact information would be shared with a union.
  3. Opt-in for union political spending
    ERA would give all workers the right not to subsidize the political spending of unions. A union’s use of workers’ dues would be limited to collective bargaining or contract administration on behalf of the union members and represented workers. Workers who wish to fund a union’s political spending would be able to opt-in annually for such contributions, with no automatic renewal.
  4. Legal clarity for independent workers
    Independent Workers would also benefit from the ERA. The bill provides clear definitions and legal clarity so independent contractors can continue to enjoy the flexibility they seek in the gig economy and elsewhere.. The ERA extends the common law definition of “employee”  used by the IRS to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA), this harmonizes the definition of “employee” across federal statute for independent contractors and small businesses.
  5. Protect Small Business Owners
    Small business franchise owners under the ERA would no longer have the legal threat of shifting “joint employer” standards threatening to destroy not only their business, but the franchise business model as a whole. It amends the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and FLSA to only consider a business a “joint employer” if it “directly, actually, and immediately” exercises control over employment decisions.
  6. Tribal Labor Sovereignty
    The ERA excludes Native American tribes and tribal enterprises on tribal lands from the NLRA.

For a full rundown of the expansive Employee Rights Act, the bill text, and more visit

Additional Resources

Employee Rights Act: SB3889
March 22, 2022,
March 2020, Center for Union Facts

OPINION: Time for a law that puts workers not unions first
March 20, 2022, Wall Street Journal

OPINION: The Pandemic changed how we work. It’s time for labor laws to change
March 22, 2022,
Rachel Grezsler, Heritage Foundation

BLOG: Sen. Scott to introduce Employee Rights Act modernizing outdated labor law
March 21, 2022,

Backgrounder: RAISE Act

Backgrounder: Modern Worker Empowerment Act

Backgrounder: Save Local Business Act


Download PDF