The office of the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board recently published its report concerning recent employer rule cases. The report is concerning for those who represent job-creating employers and the hard working men and women who risk everything to bring their business visions to life.
The concern is that the NLRB has taken an expansive view of the National Labor Relations Act’s right to collective action and the discussing of wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. The NLRB has moved far beyond management-union disputes and is proactively invalidating company policies designed to protect both employees and employers.
Let me give you a few examples of company policy manual provisions which the NLRB has deemed to violate Section 7 of the NLRA:
“Do not discuss customer or employee information outside of work including phone numbers and addresses”
“You must not disclose proprietary or confidential information about your employer or other associates.”
“Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners and competitors.”
“Do not make fun of, denigrate or defame your co-workers, customers, franchisees, suppliers, the company or our competitors.”
“Refrain from any action that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the company’s operation or reputation.”
“Never engage in behavior that would undermine the reputation of the employer, your peers or yourself.”
“Do not make insulting, embarrassing, hurtful or abusive comments about other company employees online, and avoid the use of offensive, derogatory or prejudicial comments.”
“Do not use any company logos, trademarks, graphics or advertising materials in social media.”
In each case, the NLRB ruled that the policy violated Section 7 of the NLRA because an employee might conclude that collective activity is prohibited under the policy. In some cases, the NLRB seems to have gone to great lengths to invalidate policies designed to protect employees from abusive conduct or to protect legitimate company interests and assets such as trademarks and logos.
In each case, the company policy was invalidated and the employee ordered reinstated or otherwise compensated. Additionally, the employer is required to notify its employees that it has been found to have violated the NLRB which, in turn, can lead to additional claims.
I personally represent business owners faced with legal challenges including those brought by their own employees. Referrals are always appreciated.