Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Handbook

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NLRB: Policy Prohibiting Personal Cell Phones in Work Areas Due to Safety Concerns May Be Lawful under Boeing

As we previously suggested, the NLRB’s adoption of the Boeing standard for determining the lawfulness of employer’s workplace rules, policies and handbook provisions has provided significant fodder for interesting cases. The Board has struggled for years with the concept that certain commonsense employer business policies can be unlawful. It is difficult to draw bright-line rules … Continue Reading

Applying the Boeing Standard, NLRB Upholds Employer’s Policies Restricting Cell Phone Use, Non-Work Email Use and Disclosure of Confidential Information

Applying the facially neutral work rule test laid out in Boeing (see here), the Board recently reversed an Administrative Law Judge decision, concluding that the employer maintained lawful workplace rules restricting employee use of (i) cell phones in commercial vehicles, (ii) the company email server for purposes not related to work, and (iii) the disclosure … Continue Reading

Buttoning Up Rules on Union Insignia – Board Makes It Easier for Employers to Restrict Size and Scope of Union Buttons For Those With Customer Contact Work

The Board continues churning out precedent-setting decisions as year-end approaches.  Two days before the Christmas holiday, in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 368 NLRB No. 146 (Dec. 16, 2019), the NLRB applied its new view on handbook rules—the Boeing test—to Wal-Mart’s policy that employees can only wear “small, non-distracting” union insignia in the workplace, holding that the … Continue Reading

Moment of Clarity? NLRB Upholds Info-Sharing and Media Contact Rules, Clarifies Boeing Standard Applicable to Employer Handbook Policies

The NLRB continues to issue decisions on a variety of interesting issues.  On October 10, the Board held, in LA Specialty Produce Co., 368 NLRB No. 93 (Oct. 10, 2019), that an employer’s strong confidentiality protections and limited media availability rules were lawful, and in so doing, clarified the analysis under the newly-issued Boeing standard, … Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board: Labor Day Roundup

While much of the country spent the last week of summer enjoying the last few days of sun, the National Labor Relations Board spent the week before its eponymous three-day weekend churning out a couple of important decisions. A brief round-up of the Board’s recent activity in areas related to the intersection of Section 7 … Continue Reading

Employers No Longer Have To Allow Union Representatives Use of Public Areas, NLRB Majority Rules

Citing judicial criticism, as well as the original Supreme Court decisions on the issue, the NLRB swept away years of precedent permitting union representatives to access public areas of an employer’s premises. In UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, 368 NLRB No. 2 (June 14, 2019), the NLRB was confronted with the findings that an employer committed unfair … Continue Reading

NLRB Rules Employer’s Handbook Statement That Benefit Available To “Non-Union Employees” Violates Act

During the last decade, a number of NLRB decisions faulted employers for written policies that were considered to be overbroad in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.  These rulings sprang largely from the NLRB’s decision in Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004), where the Board set forth a standard for evaluating the lawfulness of employer policies that … Continue Reading

Employer’s Litigation Hold Not Unlawful, NLRB Division of Advice Concludes

Last year about this time, the NLRB changed the standard for reviewing handbook rules.  The new standard takes into consideration the fact  there are many other interests other than the NLRA at play in a workplace, and seems to have quieted the frenzied scrutiny of employer policies. Over the years, the heightened scrutiny of employer policies has resulted in … Continue Reading

NLRB Finds Employer Effectively Repudiated Unlawful Handbook Rule…and RecusalGate Continues

The Board issued an interesting decision discussing an employer’s successful efforts to repudiate unlawful conduct, which we’ll get to in a minute.  In our last post, we discussed a simmering dispute over the circumstances which an NLRB member must recuse himself or herself.  This issue, we’ll call it Recusalgate,  has taken an interesting turn.  In ADI … Continue Reading

Arbitration Class Waivers, Past Practice (not established) and Skirmishing Over Information Requests All Part of Recent NLRB Action

Since December 2017, when the Board issued a number of decisions which restored precedent that had been changed in the last few years, (discussed here, here, here, and here), not much of note has been happening at the Board.  Indeed, there was not a full complement at the Board until April when Chairman Ring was confirmed. Two upcoming events may see … Continue Reading

NLRB General Counsel Issues Handbook on Handbook Rules

Following up on the NLRB’s decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), on June 6, NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a new Guidance Memorandum (18-04) detailing how NLRB Regional Offices receiving claims of improper employment policies are to interpret employer workplace rules. As we reported this past December (here), … Continue Reading

Handbook Wars – Common Sense Returns NLRB Overhauls Standard for Legality of Work Rules

We have noted many times over the years how the NLRB’s zeal to review employer policies, or more correctly, fragments of employer policies, for lawfulness has led to nettlesome issues that rarely, if ever, involve actual employees.  The results have been absurd and have raised an entire cottage industry of attacks on language by unions … Continue Reading

Here We Go: The Full Board Finally Starts to Make Its Mark

 NLRB Reverses Precedent on Joint Employer Liability and Standard Governing Employee Handbooks This afternoon, just two days prior to the end of Chairman Philip Miscimarra’s term, the NLRB issued a pair of 3-2 decisions overruling significant precedent regarding joint-employer status and the legal standard governing whether workplace rules violate the exercise of Section 7 rights … Continue Reading

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 Overturns Election Win For Employer That Failed To Timely Serve Voter List (Even Though Union Received List In Timely Fashion)

The NLRB is down to three members, the bare minimum required to conduct business, and so cases are being issued somewhat sporadically. The so-called ambush election rules have received a lot attention over the last few years.  We recently discussed here a case where the NLRB found that a union had not timely filed a … 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

NLRB Reverses Course, Gives Employees Certain Rights to Use Employer’s Email

In a decision that reverses existing case law on employee use of  employer email, the National Labor Relations Board (with two members filing separate dissents) has decided that under certain circumstances employees do have the right to use and employer’s email to engage in protected communications under the National Labor Relations Act. Purple Communications, Inc., … Continue Reading

NLRB Says On-Line Planning For Insubordination Is Not Protected Concerted Activity

 In Richmond District Neighborhood Center, Case 20-CA-091748 (Oct. 28, 2014), the Board upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling that a conversation between two employees, who were involved with student programming at the neighborhood center, was not protected under the NLRA.  During the course of their Facebook exchange, which included obscenity-laced statements regarding how they would … Continue Reading

Reading the NLRB Signs at the Triple Play Sports Bar

In Three D, LLC d/b/a Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille, 361 NLRB No. 31. (August 22, 2014), the National Labor Relations Board ruled that an employee “liking” a status on Facebook is engaging in protected concerted activities under the NLRA.   Employees were unlawfully terminated for ranting about the employer’s tax-withholding error, which resulted in … Continue Reading

NLRB Work Rule Decisions Continue to be a Mixed Bag

As the NLRB continues to wade through the pool of issues arising from social media policies and other workplace rules, an Administrative Law Judge’s recent decision in Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (July 25, 2014) illustrates the growing number of problems employers face in developing corporate policies and the variability of NLRB decisions. In this … 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 Administrative Law Judge Rulings on Work Rules and Social Media Policies Continue to Perplex

NLRB Work Rules and Social Media Policies Continue to Perplex The NLRB may be getting #SocialMedia, but confusion concerning employer work rules and social media policies became obvious yet again in Professional Electrical Contractors of Connecticut (June 4, 2014).  In this decision, ALJ Raymond Green wrote that “a legitimate conflict of principles . . . will require … Continue Reading

NLRB Gets #SocialMedia: Board and ALJ Rulings Recap

‘April rulings bring May muddling’ might be a better way to tweet recent social media decisions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) given the Board’s ruling in Durham School Services (April 25, 2014) and an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) opinion in Kroger Co. of Michigan (April 21, 2014).  Together, these two decisions show that the … Continue Reading
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