Labor Relations Update

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NLRB Finds Social Media Policies Lawful, Sheds Light on Impact of Boeing

As we have discussed before, several years ago, the Board instituted a significant paradigm shift in analyzing the lawfulness of employers’ handbook policies in relation to employees’ Section 7 rights, when it issued its decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017).  Boeing established a balancing test that takes into account the employer’s … Continue Reading

NLRB Holds that Leaflet Outlining Consequences for Threatening Workers Is Not Unlawful

In adopting the ALJ’s Recommended Order in S&S Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Appalachian Heating, Case No. 09-CA-235304, the NLRB found that a leaflet distributed by the employer during union organizing efforts, which stated that it is against federal law for a labor union to threaten employees, did not violate the NLRA because it did not constitute … Continue Reading

NLRB: An Inference of Union Animus Must Be Grounded in Sufficient Supporting Evidence under Wright Line

When an employee is disciplined and then claims the employer acted on account of union animus in violation of Section 8(a)(3) of the Act, evidence to support such a claim either can be proffered through direct evidence, such as “smoking gun”-type statements made by a supervisor or top-management that the discipline was implemented due to … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer’s Good-Faith Belief in Employee’s Misconduct Insufficient to Justify Terminating Employee Engaged in Protected Activity

As we have often discussed, there is a fine line between protected and unprotected activity.  Profane outbursts, deliberate misconduct, or highly-disruptive strikes may fall outside the protection of the NLRA, subjecting employees to lawful disciplinary action by their employers. On December 7, 2020, the Board reaffirmed its prior decisions holding that an employer’s discharge of … Continue Reading

A Bias Against Neutrality Agreements: NLRB Regional Director Issues Complaint against Hotel for Supporting Organizing Union

On November 30, 2020, the NLRB Regional Director issued a Complaint against the Yotel Boston hotel and Unite Here Local 26, alleging the Hotel unlawfully recognized and provided improper assistance to the Union. The Hotel and the Union were parties to a neutrality agreement.  As is common in such agreements, the Hotel agreed to provide … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Remands Hotel Certification Decision and Reminds Board to Explain Its Reasoning

On October 23, 2020, the D.C. Circuit granted Davidson Hotel Company’s petition for review of unfair labor practices resulting from its refusal to bargain with two newly-certified bargaining units, and denied the NLRB’s cross-petition for enforcement of an order to engage in collective bargaining with those units. The Circuit also remanded the underlying unit certification … Continue Reading

Handbook Civility Rules Aimed at Preventing Toxic Work Environments Found Lawful by NLRB’s Division of Advice

The NLRB’s Division of Advice recently released a long-awaited Advice Memorandum (originally issued in February 2019, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Case 28-CA-229134 (Feb. 22, 2019)) concerning the validity of two workplace rules under the Boeing standard: (1) a rule encouraging employees to “[b]e…objective” in their communications; and (2) a rule requiring employees to notify the employer … Continue Reading

NLRB: Employer Tweet Unlawfully Restrained Protected Activity

On November 24, 2020, the Board held that a high-level executive’s tweet violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by interfering with or restraining employees’ protected, concerted activity. In FDRLST Media, LLC, 370 NLRB No. 49 (2020), the Board reaffirmed its longstanding principle that a violation of Section 8(a)(1) does not depend on the employer’s motive … Continue Reading

NLRB Establishes Pathway to Holding More In-Person Manual-Ballot Elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As employers faced with a representation petition filed during the COVID-19 pandemic can attest, Regional Directors of the National Labor Relations Board have been incredibly reticent to hold in-person elections.  Indeed, since April 1st, when the Board resumed processing representation petitions, approximately ninety percent (90%) of elections have been held by mail rather than in-person.  … Continue Reading

NLRB Seeks Comment: Rats, Banners and Neutrals, Oh My!

An age old question under the National Labor Relations Act is what constitutes “picketing”?  By the Supreme Court’s definition, picketing is inherently coercive and may not be directed against a neutral employer.  An issue that has vexed employers for the last several years has been the use of stationary protests, such as inflatable rats and … Continue Reading

NLRB Issues Several Advice Memoranda Providing Guidance on COVID-Related and Other Workplace Issues

On September 15, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “Board”) Division of Advice (“Advice”), published four Advice Memoranda addressing an array of issues ranging from COVID-19-related unilateral actions to non-work political advocacy and the legality of confidentiality provisions in separation agreements.  The Memoranda were drafted by Advice last month, and join the … Continue Reading

No Reasonable Expectation of Recall? No Election: Board Cancels Union Election at Casino Closed During COVID-19

The National Labor Relations Board recently cancelled a union election at a Las Vegas casino that suspended its operations and laid off employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In NP Texas LLC d/b/a Texas Station Gambling Hall and Hotel and Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas, 370 NLRB No. 11 (2020), the Board found that … Continue Reading

NLRB Division of Advice Dishes Some Guidance With Respect to COVID-Related ULP Charges

The pandemic has thrown a number of obstacles at employers and employees as everyone attempts to navigate a novel situation.  On August 13, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) Division of Advice (“Advice”), the agency’s internal think-tank, published five Advice Memoranda dismissing unfair labor practice charges against employers in connection with issues concerning the … Continue Reading

Overruling District Court, Second Circuit Affirms Individual Employees Are Bound By Arbitration Award Prosecuted By Their Union

On July 29, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the “Second Circuit”) handed down what amounts to a significant win for the collectively-bargained dispute-resolution process set forth in the agreement between ABM Industry Groups, LLC (“ABM”) and its Union, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 30 (“Local 30” or … Continue Reading

Senate Confirms Pair of Appointees to National Labor Relations Board

In a package deal, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointments of two members to the National Labor Relations Board (“Board” or “NLRB”).  Lauren McFerran, who previously served as a member of the NLRB for five years until her term expired on December 16, 2019, will rejoin the current Board as its only Democrat.  Current Republican … Continue Reading

NLRB Upends Context-Specific Tests for Profane Conduct, Folding Such Discipline Into Traditional Motivation Tests For Evaluating Lawfulness

In another long-anticipated decision, on July 21, 2020, in General Motors LLC, 369 NLRB No. 127 (2020), the Board replaced three context-specific rules for determining whether certain abusive conduct committed by employees is protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”) with the Wright Line standard that is traditionally used to … Continue Reading

NLRB Division of Advice Releases Deluge of Advice Memoranda Discussing COVID-Related ULP Charges, Confidentiality Rules, Information Requests, and Other Topics

On July 15, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) Division of Advice published 16 Advice Memoranda addressing myriad questions posed by various Regional Offices. While a majority of the Memoranda were drafted within the past month, a few were originally issued months or years ago. Advice is the agency’s internal think tank and the … Continue Reading

NLRB General Counsel Announces “Suggested” Protocols for Conducting Manual, In-Person Elections Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

After a brief delay where the NLRB suspended all representation elections from March 19 through April 6, 2020 (see here and here), NLRB Regional Directors have since largely required elections to be held via mail ballot to curb the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the Office of the General Counsel of the NLRB published … Continue Reading

Update: Federal Judge Amends Prior Order Concerning 2019 Election Rules, Affording Deference to the NLRB, but Appeal to D.C. Circuit Remains

In late May, on the eve of the effective date of the NLRB’s sweeping changes to the election process, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that certain of the new rules were substantive—not procedural—in nature, and were improperly implemented without affording the public an opportunity to … Continue Reading

NLRB Restores Precedent, Gives Employers Freedom to Unilaterally Discipline Union Employees Between Certification and First Contract

The National Labor Relations Board continues to overrule Obama-Board precedent at a rapid pace.  (See our prior blog posts here, here and here for a few recent examples.) On June 23, 2020, in 800 River Road Operating Company, LLC d/b/a Care One at New Milford, 369 NLRB No. 109, the Board overturned  Total Security Management … Continue Reading

NLRB Gives Green Light to Confidentiality Provisions in Individual Arbitration Agreements

In many private arbitration agreements entered into in the non-union context, employers and employees agree that the proceedings shall remain confidential. On June 19, 2020, the Board addressed whether a confidentiality provision that arguably restricted an employee participating in the arbitration process from disclosing terms and conditions of employment violates the NLRA. The Board held, … Continue Reading

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

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

NLRB: Employer Did Not Unlawfully Discontinue Christmas Bonus

Summer is winding down but the NLRB continues to be a source of vigorous activity.  The Board recently issued a sweeping decision regarding the lawfulness of arbitration agreements.  Also, the Board announced its intention to change the so-called ambush election rules.  Of course, the Board continues to issue decisions on a regular basis.  Discussion of some of … Continue Reading
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