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Employment Blog

NLRB Tells You What You Can Put in Your Policies

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on December 26, 2012
Filed under Employment

Two recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board again shows the intrusion of the Board into the business of running a company. In these decisions, the NLRB (by a 2-1 vote) held that an employer violated federal labor law by:

  • Establishing a company policy that prohibited employees from disclosing confidential personnel information and documents to persons outside the organization;
  • By establishing rules in an employee handbook that included a rule prohibiting employees from electronically posting statements that damage the company reputation or damage any individuals reputation.

In both cases, the NLRB said that the policies adopted by the company violated federal law because it restricted the right of employees to address issues of wages, hours and conditions of employment that is protected under Section 7 of the NLRA, even in a non-union setting. The dissenting board member wrote that there was nothing in these policies that referenced union activity and it was not reasonable for the company to believe that employees construed the rule or policy to prohibit protected activity regarding union rights and individual rights.

This is a continuation of an effort by the NLRB to place restrictions on what companies can do to control the activities of employees. This represents a very liberal interpretation of the Section 7 rights of an employee in instances when the company does not even refer to union organizing efforts or union activity in its rule or policy.

Employers must be aware of this significant enforcement effort by the NLRB and be careful how they word their policies in an employee handbook.