NLRB app review: Not perfect, but not half bad.

The National Labor Relations Board recently came out with a new smartphone app, in iPhone and Android versions. The Board had an app a few years ago, but you had to pay for it, and if I remember correctly, the price was in two figures. Because I am a cheapskate, I never downloaded it. The new one is free, as a government app should be, and I tested it this week on my iPhone 4. It's not terribly exciting, but it's not a bad little app.

Here is the home screen - the "half" eagle didn't do much for me, but the colors look nice:


NLRB 1.jpg


When you scroll down, you come to this white "CONTACT NLRB" band -- which does not take you to the NLRB's contact information. (Oops.) Instead, it takes you to the legal information screen. But the links at the top and very bottom of the screen all work fine:


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The white band with red arrow does not take you to the correct screen. Oh, well.

It's back to school season, and we've got more webinars than you can shake a stick at! Learn all about the new veterans and individuals with disabilities requirements for federal contractors with Cara Crotty and Angelique Lyons at 2 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, September 10. Then, join Jonathan Martin, Steve Schuster, and Leigh Tyson as they fill you in on Social Media and the NLRA: Common Problems and Best Practices at 11 a.m. Eastern Wednesday, September 11. And, finally, if you dare, join Dana Thrasher on the Affordable Care Act: Preparing for Implementation. Dana's program, jointly sponsored by Constangy, Brooks & Smith and Carothers, DiSanti, and Freudenberger, LLP, of California, begins at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific on Tuesday, September 17.

OK, on to the "meat" of this app. There are three separate sections of legal information, depending on whether you are an employee,


NLRB 2.jpgan employer,


NLRB 3.jpgor a union.


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Since most of us here are "employers," let's go to the employer page - you get a brief summary of an employer's rights and responsibilities, followed by a disclaimer that is as long as the summary:


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If you hit the "Continue" bar, you'll get a nice menu of topics you can read about in more detail. If you're an employee, your menu will vary depending on whether you are represented by a union:


NLRB 9.jpgWhich takes you here -- pick your subject!


NLRB 10.jpg


Since this is a blog, of course I had to choose "Social Media." When you check your topic and then go back up to the top to select "Show Results" (an annoying extra step that should not be necessary), you go to a screen that provides a brief summary of the law as it pertains to the subject.


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And if you want more detail, just click on "Learn More," and you will get a more detailed summary:


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Pretty cool, huh? (The app, I mean, not the NLRB's position on social media.)

The "CONTACT NLRB" page (once you find it) is nice, too. If you know which Regional Office you want, you can select it using the scroll wheel. But if you don't know your region, you can let the app use your location ("Locate Automatically"), and it will send a team of union organizers to your doorstep give you the address of the Regional Office nearest you.


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And when you click on the hyperlinked text of the regional office address, it takes you to Google Maps and shows you the location of the office:


NLRB 8.jpg


So, not perfect, but all in all, a nice effort by the NLRB to provide information that is accessible and reasonably helpful to the "regulated community."

That said, I wish they'd included more of what is on their website, such as information about the Board (what it does) and Board members, and its newsroom.

In the future, it would also be nice to have tablet version that included all of the above and also allowed you to download Board decisions.

I did not have a chance to review in detail the substance of the information provided, but based on my superficial review it appeared to be reasonably even-handed and not excessively partisan. (In other words, I saw a couple of places where the NLRB actually acknowledged that employers had rights.)

On a scale of 1-5, I'd give this app a 3.5.

I would love to see other government agencies create smartphone apps. (EEOC, I'm talkin' to you!) The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor introduced a "Timesheet" app a couple of years ago, which was intended to allow employees to calculate their hours worked and overtime pay. It is still available at the App Store and has mixed reviews. (The new NLRB app is much better, in my opinion.) The DOL has at least two other apps, neither of which I have tried: a Labor Stats app, and an OSHA Heat Safety Tool.

If you have tried any of these government apps, please share your thoughts in the Comments!


Image credits: Would you believe, not from Wikimedia Commons? These are all screen shots from my iPhone.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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