The National Labor Relations Act employs a broad definition of “employee.” The term includes anyone currently on a company’s payroll and anyone whose employment has ceased due to a current strike or unfair labor practice and who has not obtained regular employment elsewhere. Several classes of workers are specifically exempted from this definition, including the following:
- Agricultural laborers
- Persons employed in a family’s or persons’ domestic service in the home
- Persons employed by a spouse or parent
- Independent contractors
- Persons employed by businesses subject to the Railway Labor Act
The inclusion of supervisory employees on this list is most significant, because supervisors are not protected if they choose to participate in union activity. In some very limited circumstances, however, a supervisor may be protected from termination, if an employer terminates a supervisor to intimidate other employees from exercising their rights.