The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that a female employee who worked at a Washington, D.C., company for more than six years and then left to go to work for another company has the right to join the union.
Nelba Schiavone, an employee at the Washington National Labor Federation, filed the unionization petition last week, alleging discrimination and retaliation, the union said.
The board agreed, and the union has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The board voted 8-1 to grant Schiavalone the right as a union member to join.
The decision was made in response to Schiavaro’s petition seeking a temporary injunction against her former employer, the Seattle-based Capital One Financial Group.
The union said in a statement that the decision to award the right is a big step forward in unionizing women, especially for those who are often left out of unionizing efforts.
The decision gives workers the right, under a federal labor law called the Wagner Act, to join unionized unions.
It also gives the union the right “to bargain collectively” to improve working conditions and wage rates.
Schiavalo’s filing also points to another important issue, the fact that she is a woman, a minority, and a nonwhite worker.
Schiava and her fellow union members are the first to be recognized as members in the labor movement, and they have been fighting for the right for years.
A federal judge earlier this month dismissed SchiaVone’s complaint, saying the labor board lacked jurisdiction to consider the case.
The NLRB said the board did not need to look at the complaint, and dismissed Schiumva’s case because it lacked jurisdiction.
The union said it will appeal.
The ruling was the result of a yearlong trial.
It is a landmark ruling that allows the NLRB to decide whether employees have a constitutional right to unionize, and could provide the foundation for other unions to join in the future.