Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Protected activity

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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

NLRB GC Boldly Defines Direction of Board Prosecution in New GC Memo

The new NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has been fast at work.  A short two weeks after being sworn in on November 17, 2017, the new General Counsel issued a memorandum making clear his intention to re-examine much of the legal precedent that was changed during the last 8 years,–and to undo many other initiatives … Continue Reading

Pair of NLRB ALJ Decisions Find Unions Violated NLRA

It is mid-November, and the Board is at a full complement, and even has a new General Counsel.  While we haven’t seen anything significant (or really, anything at all) come out of the newly constituted Board we know the new members are feverishly working on getting some decisions out.  The full complement of the Board will last only a few … Continue Reading

The Devil Is In the Details: New Board Members Likely To Change Law In Nuanced Ways

The end of September in most years sees a spate of new NLRB decisions, sometimes dozens, issued on or about September 30, to coincide with the end of the agency’s fiscal year.  Not so this past September 30 because of the recent changeover from a majority of Democrat Board Members to a majority of Republican … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Enforcement of Secondary Boycott Restrictions Does Not Place Union Agent in Involuntary Servitude Nor Does It Encroach on Union’s Religious Freedom

Labor Day is upon us.  It is fitting, therefore, to enter the weekend with another case that exemplifies the bizarre world of labor relations.  Like the case of the human resource manager who turned on his employer, or the nurse who felt her union activity protected her in screaming confrontations, we continue to see new … 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’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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola and Potential Labor Relations Issues

The Ebola panic presently sweeping the U.S. raises a host of potential issues for employers.  We recently provided guidance to help employers ensure employee safety while also complying with legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.  In addition, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently released a comprehensive summary of … 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 Divides Sharply on Employee Concerted Activity for “Mutual Aid or Protection”

In a complex, twenty-eight page opinion, a sharply divided NLRB has ruled that when an individual employee seeks assistance from fellow employees with respect to a violation under Title VII (or other workplace laws), the action is not only concerted but also presumptively for the purpose of mutual aid or protection, and thereby also covered … 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 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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