Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Section 8(a)(1)

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Divided NLRB Rules Employer Policy Protecting Customer Information Is Lawful

Employers can prohibit the use by employees of the names, social security numbers and credit card numbers of customers in furtherance of organizational activities.  If this seems like it should have been a foregone conclusion, a recent case from the NLRB shows how the agency’s continued parsing of employer policies could easily have turned this notion on its … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Acted More Like “Advocate Than Adjudicator” In Issuing Decision, DC Court of Appeals Concludes

When bargaining over an agreement, it is common to hear union representatives ask “why do we need such elaborate language in an agreement?  We are always reasonable.”  To which, the company usually responds, “We think you’re nifty but the next person holding your job may not be as reasonable; better to have it in writing … Continue Reading

Two Employees, Social Media, An Unlawful Policy. . .What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The advent of social media resulted in a feverish effort by the NLRB to keep up with new technology.  In reality, the legal standard for evaluating whether conduct is protected concerted activity did not change.  Rather, all the excitement was over the fact employees were being punished for things they said on social media, which was … Continue Reading

Employer’s Asking Employee “How Things Are Going?,” Prelude to Unlawful Solicitation of Grievances, Board Majority Rules

We are on the verge of the Board majority changing for the first time in approximately a decade. The President’s two appointees, if confirmed, will bring the Board up to a full five members.  After the new members are seated we likely will see big changes to the law.  In the meantime, the Board continues to … Continue Reading

Attack Falsely Alleging Sandwich Maker Engaged In Unhealthy Practices Not Protected Activity Concludes Appeals Court, Overruling NLRB

Labor disputes are passionate affairs.  Workplace grievances elicit all sorts of strident behavior. When the dispute involves a group of employees, the effect can become magnified.  The exact point at which the stridency of an employee’s behavior becomes unprotected is not always apparent, and like so much else in labor relations, the line changes with the Board’s … Continue Reading

Novel Theory Related To Violation Of Bargaining “Ground Rules” Fails (Fortunately)

When an employer and a union sit down to bargain they often agree to ground rules for how negotiations are to be conducted.  A common ground rule, for example, is for the parties to agree to address “non-economic” items before addressing economic proposals.  Other ground rules include things like confidentiality of negotiations (becoming increasingly rare as unions want to take their … Continue Reading

Circuit Court Rejects Attack On NLRB’s New Witness Rule

During the last several years, the NLRB has overturned a great deal of existing precedent.  Among other changes, the Board has required bargaining over discipline in newly organized units, found graduate students to be employees entitled to organize, and found that two employers may have to bargain together.  The Board also changed the longstanding rule … Continue Reading

NLRB Settlements Can Be Tricky, Especially If You Don’t Inform The Agency

The last few decisions issued by the NLRB have addressed a wide spectrum of rather unique situations.  Just in the last several days we saw decisions involving a combative registered nurse and a human resources representative threatening unionization.  So, perhaps, one of the Board’s most recent decisions is not all that unusual….it simply involves a case … Continue Reading

HR Generalist’s Threat To Bring In Union Not Protected, NLRB Rules

One of the most interesting things about labor relations is the unusual situations human resources professionals have to deal with on a day to day basis.  If you are at a cocktail party with a human resources professional, ask them what the most unusual thing they’ve ever encountered on the job and chances are you’ll … Continue Reading

Union Adherent’s Antics Not Protected By Act, NLRB Rules

The NLRB recently issued a rare decision completely dismissing all allegations against an employer; rarer still because it was unanimous.  In Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, 365 NLRB No. 79 (May 15, 2017) the NLRB was confronted with a situation where an employee-union adherent engaged in behavior ultimately found to be inappropriate and unprotected. The employer, a … Continue Reading

NLRB GC’s Attempt At Summary Judgment In Handbook Case Rejected By NLRB Majority

The change in a presidential administration always brings changes to government agencies, including the NLRB, as new appointments are made reflecting the policy preferences of the administration.  The NLRB is not immune to this change and it has been historical practice for the president to appoint three members from the party of the administration and … Continue Reading

Employer’s Interview Of Employees During Defense Of Unfair Labor Practice Violates Act, NLRB Rules

We already know that when it comes to the NLRB there already are several actions an employer can take that violate the NLRA, even though such actions would be perfectly acceptable under any other employment law.  And sometimes the actions are deemed unlawful even when they are not directly related to the NLRA.  Thus, we’ve … Continue Reading

Split D.C. Circuit Panel Upholds NLRB: DirecTV Violated NLRA By Terminating Technicians For Statements Made During A News Interview

In a 2-1 ruling in DirecTV Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the NLRB’s ruling that DirecTV must reinstate technicians who were terminated for complaining about a company pay policy during a television interview, finding that the employees’ conduct constituted protected, concerted activity and was … Continue Reading

Non-Compete Agreement A Mandatory Subject of Bargaining, NLRB Rules

The first day of employment is often chaotic.  New employees must learn their way around the jobsite, meet (and remember the names of) many new people and otherwise familiarize themselves with working at a new job.  Oh, and there’s the paperwork.  Seemingly endless mounds of paperwork.  New employees are asked to sign a multitude of documents … Continue Reading

Recent NLRB Decision A Reminder That NLRA Can Protect Actions Of A Single Employee

So far, it has been a long quiet Summer with little NLRB activity, – with the exception of the recent ruling that temporary agency employees can be part of a bargaining unit with the principal employer’s employees, of course.  More change may be coming, though.  The end of the NLRB’s fiscal year is September 30 and … Continue Reading

NLRB Refuses to Approve Withdrawal of Charges Despite Settlement of Class Action Case

We know that, among many other common employer policies, the NLRB considers many mandatory arbitration agreements to be unlawful, particularly where they prohibit class or collective actions.  See Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 72 (2014).  Unlike a more run of the mill handbook violation where the government seeks removal or modification of the policy, an … Continue Reading

Union Represented Employee Not Entitled To Co-Worker Witness During Investigatory Interview, NLRB Rules

The last few months at the NLRB have been relatively quiet, save of course for the ambush election rules which went into effect on April 15; the true impact of these rules has yet to be revealed.  Many of the recent Board cases involve correcting decisions that were  invalidated by the Supreme Court in its Noel Canning recess appointment decision. … Continue Reading

Search Of Company Vehicle Not Employee Interview Triggering Weingarten Rights, NLRB Division of Advice

The scope of a union-represented employee’s right to have a union representative present during an investigatory interview is one of the more interesting areas of labor law.  Even though most people who practice labor relations know the basics of the so-called Weingarten rights, the same types of questions continue to arise because there are an … Continue Reading

NLRB Overturns Decert Election Based On Employer’s “Promises” Of 401(k)

The last few months have seen very little in the way of NLRB decisions.  The recent Supreme Court decision  where the recess appointments to the NLRB were invalidated, likely will further slow down the process of issuing decisions. Still, the NLRB has had a full complement of members for almost a year, and the agency manages to … Continue Reading

Old Fashioned Protected Concerted Activity Stirred Up With A Twist

A recent NLRB ALJ decision illustrates the old and the new under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).  The case is Gates & Sons Barbeque of Missouri, Inc. and Workers’ Organizing Committee, Kansas City, No. 14-CA-110229 (June 17, 2014). In this case, the employer operated a successful chain of barbeque restaurants.  One of the benefits … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employee’s Outburst In Calling Manager “Trouble” Not So Egregious As To Render Conduct Unprotected

A theme we have followed here with interest is protected concerted activity, and what kinds of conduct might render otherwise protected activity “unprotected.”  We noted, for instance, that the Board recently held that an employee’s use of derogatory gender-based comments  may not not render a protected outburst “unprotected,” even if the EEOC and the myriad State … Continue Reading

Employer Merely Granted Employee’s Wish To Be Terminated, NLRB Div. Of Advice Rules

Social media permeates society.  It was inevitable that the increased use of smart phones and various communications platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would clash with the workplace.  We have noted several instances where the NLRB has alleged that employer action in response to social media posts is unlawful, as well as its seemingly endless review … Continue Reading

DC Court of Appeals Invalidates NLRB Rights Poster Holding Regulation Violates NLRA

A federal appeals court today rebuffed the NLRB’s attempt to require all employers under its jurisdiction to post in a “conspicuous” place in the workplace a poster that informs employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.   The NLRB’s rule has been controversial from the start as it didn’t just require the posting … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer Responsible For Backpay Of Union Representative Allegedly Injured During Workplace Assault

The NLRB has ruled that an employer is liable to lost wages for a union representative who allegedly suffered injuries after being pushed down a flight of stairs at a work site.  The case is Norquay Construction, Inc., 359 NLRB No. 93 (April 16, 2013).  The facts involved a construction project.  The general contractor was non-union but … Continue Reading
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