Recent NLRB Rulings May Require Changes to Employee Handbooks

Author:  Matt Stokely

In the past year, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has continued to police aggressively the employee handbooks and other employer policies that it believes violates employee rights under federal law.  There have been a number of recent NLRB decisions, and the NLRB’s Office of General Counsel has issued lengthy written guidance to assist employers in describing policies
that may or may not be prohibited.  Some of these decisions have resulted in significant changes from what many employers believed were legally permissible policies.  These decisions are predicated on the federal labor law’s prohibition of employer interference with rights of employees to engage in concerted protected activity.  All employers, with or without a union representing the employees, are impacted.  There are many changes that have been made in the following areas:

  • Confidentiality rules
  • Rules regarding employee conduct toward the company, supervisors and fellow employees
  • Rules restricting employee interactions with third parties
  • Rules prohibiting employee use of employer’s logos, copyrights and trademarks
  • Rules restricting photography and recording in the workplace
  • Handbook disclosure provisions
  • Solicitation/distribution policies

As you can see from the foregoing list of subject areas, the NLRB’s recent rulings and guidance touches on a broad scope of employer policies.  Many commentators have noted that if employers have not had their employee handbook reviewed in the past two years, they are likely to be surprised to learn that some provisions are now illegal.  The consequences of having such prohibited policies as established by the NLRB depend upon a variety of circumstances, and some employers may decide to keep certain provisions notwithstanding the NLRB’s caution that they may arguably run afoul of the law.  Please contact Matt Stokely of Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling’s Labor and Employment Law Department if you would like to schedule a meeting to discuss these changes and how they impact your company’s policies and procedures.

AUTHOR: Matt Stokely

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