Friday, March 20, 2015

New NLRB Memo on Employee Handbooks

The NLRB General Counsel issued a new memo: Report of the General Counsel Concerning Employer Rules. The overall theme is that employers may violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by merely maintaining a workplace rule that chills protected activity.

Frankly, the memo is a tad on the hypersensitive side. For example, this policy gets singled out as unlawful:
Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
Yes, you read that correctly . . . a policy requiring employees to "be respectful" is illegal in the eyes of the NLRB GC. See also:
Do "not make fun of, denigrate, or defame your co-workers, customers, franchisees, suppliers, the Company, or our competitors."
Overall, the memo emphasizes that context and clarity are important. If employees could reasonably construe the policy to prohibit NLRA-protected activity, then it is overly broad. And, as you can easily infer from the memo, the term "reasonably" has been stretched pretty far.