Will Employee Handbooks Need To Be Changed Again?

By and
August 16, 2021

The newly-appointed General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Jennifer Abruzzo, has issued a memorandum to NLRB regional offices saying that she intends to “reexamine” positions taken by her predecessors and the Trump Era Board.

During the Trump Administration, the NLRB overruled a number of legal precedents while taking a more employer-friendly stance.  The General Counsel has a great deal of influence over policy and legal interpretation, and can issue guidance and advice memos outlining her office’s policy positions with regard to both union and non-union workplaces.

Among the areas the General Counsel signaled an intent to review are previous decisions siding with employers on employee handbook rules.  These include rules applying to confidentiality provisions, non-disparagement, use of social media, workplace civility, offensive language, “respectful and professional manner” conduct, use of cameras in the workplace, use of work e-mail, independent contractor status, and the NLRB’s jurisdiction over religious institutions.

The full memo can be found at Mandatory Submissions to Advice.  The General Counsel did not specify the potential policy shifts which may be forthcoming from her review, but it appears likely that employers may once again need to be prepared to adjust handbook rules in response to a changing NLRB.

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