For the last year or more, the National Labor Relations Board has targeted employee handbooks, policies and work rules of both union and nonunion employers. Several decisions by the board have been issued regarding whether company rules governing employee communications, social media, conduct outside the office, confidentiality and employee access to company property constitute unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act. And on March 18, 2015, the NLRB’s General Counsel published a 30 page report outlining lawful and unlawful employer policies and work rules.
Under Section 7 of the NLRA, union and nonunion employees have the right to engage in protected concerted activities, including the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively and engage in other activities for mutual aid and protections. The NLRB and federal courts have interpreted Section 7 broadly, granting employees the right to openly discuss wages, benefits and working conditions at their place of employment. Under the NLRA, employees also have the right to complain about working conditions, including the competency of management.
An employer commits an “unfair labor practice” when interfering with, restraining or coercing an employee in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7. Employees, including those “at-will”, cannot be terminated or disciplined for exercising their rights under the NLRA.
The Board has the authority to overturn employee discipline and terminations that are based on handbook provisions or policies which violate the NLRA. Employers wishing to avoid government attention should carefully review and update, if necessary, their policies and work rules.
Contact our office if you have any questions or are in need of assistance.
To review the full report of the NLRB General Counsel on employer policies, click here: