Company Handbook Items Draw NLRB Scrutiny

EmployeeHandbookThe National Labor Relations Board is drawing a lot attention from the media for its recent crackdowns on companies’ social media policies, but the NLRB has increasingly been scrutinizing other common policies in non-union companies’ employee handbooks.  Guidelines on keeping information confidential, being courteous in the workplace, not disparaging the company or supervisors, and resolving disputes are all under the NLRB’s microscope. The key, in the NLRB’s eyes, is whether the policy would limit employees’ right to “engage in concerted activity” (which includes everything from two employees discussing the workplace to a group of employees forming a union) or suggests that employees can’t engage in collective bargaining.  So, for instance, the NLRB has taken issue with confidentiality policies that prohibit the sharing of information regarding other employees because sharing employee information is a key step in organizing.  Similarly, the NLRB has taken action against non-union companies that prohibit employees from disparaging co-workers or the company, because employees have a right to share their grievances about the workplace.  There is no question that the NLRB is continuing to assert itself in non-union workplaces. Employers can look forward to more NLRB cases claiming that standard handbook policies violate the National Labor Relations Act.  If you haven’t recently reviewed your employee handbook and policies with an eye toward these issues, it makes sense to do so before you find yourself in the NLRB’s crosshairs.

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