Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Employer policies

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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

Recent ALJ Decision Provides Important Nuance Regarding Workplace No Recording Rules

In late 2017, the NLRB in Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017), established a new three category system for classifying various employer policies. The new system was designed to balance a “work rule’s negative impact on employees’ ability to exercise their Section 7 rights and the rule’s connection to employers’ right to maintain discipline … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer’s Reasons For Policy Changes Kept Union’s Information Request Alive Even After Proposals Withdrawn

Information requests in the realm of labor relations are simple in theory but can be complicated in practice.  We have seen how the topics of information sought by a union can cause skirmishes, sometimes deliberately so.  We also have seen that it almost never is a good idea for a party to just deny a request for relevant information … 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

You’ve Got Mail: NLRB Requests Briefing on Standard for Employee Use of Employer Owned Electronic Communication Systems

In what could signify the beginning of the end for Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB 1050 (2014) and guaranteed employee access to Employer computer systems for union organizing purposes, the NLRB issued a notice on August 1 inviting the filing of briefs on whether the Board should uphold, modify or overrule the decision.  Under Purple … Continue Reading

Gridlock Broken: Senate Confirms John Ring as Newest Member of NLRB

By a vote of 50 to 48  the U.S. Senate confirmed Republican John Ring as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board, giving the agency a full five member complement.  Member Ring, whose term expires December 16, 2022, takes the seat previously held by Chairman Miscimarra. The addition of Member Ring means, of course, that the … 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

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

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

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

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 Did Not Violate Duty To Bargain Over Change To Christmas Gift Policy, NLRB Rules

What would the holiday season be without a Christmas gift case?  A perennial problem for labor relations personnel is whether the yearly Christmas turkey given to employees is something that an employer must bargain over before (bah humbug) discontinuing. See, e.g., Q-1 Motor Express, Inc., 323 NLRB 767, 775 (1997). In a decision issued shortly … 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

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

Too Close for Comfort? NLRB Departs from Long Standing Joint Employer Standard

Citing “changing economic circumstances, particularly the recent dramatic growth in contingent employment relationships,” in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (August 27, 2015), a 3-2 National Labor Relations Board majority (Pearce, Hirozawa, McFerran) significantly revised and broadened the standard for assessing joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. The primary justification … 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 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

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
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