NLRB General Counsel Issues Report on Employee Handbook Policies
Posted March 20, 2015 by Jim Spencer
On March 18, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an important report about employee handbook rules that, in the NLRB’s view, violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The 30-page report can be downloaded here. Although most employers will be unpleasantly surprised by what they find in the report, they should take the time to read it and then to make sure that their employee handbooks and stand-alone policies don’t contain any of the policies that the NLRA has flagged as unlawful. A sample of some of the policies that the NLRB views as unlawful are listed below. The report also includes examples of policies that it views as lawful, which employers can presumably rely upon when drafting and revising their own policies.
Examples of Unlawful Policies. Policies that the report says are unlawful include the following:
- Do not discuss “customer or employee information” outside of work,including “phone numbers [and] addresses.”
- “You must not disclose proprietary or confidential information about [the Employer, or] other associates (if the proprietary or confidential information relating to [the Employer’s] associates was obtained in violation of law or lawful Company policy).”
- “Never publish or disclose [the Employer’s] or another’s confidential or other proprietary information. Never publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to [the Employer].”
- “[B]e respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.”
- Do “not make fun of, denigrate, or defame your co-workers, customers, franchisees, suppliers, the Company, or our competitors.”
- “Be respectful of others and the Company.”
- “Refrain from any action that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the Company’s business or reputation.”
- Do not make “[s]tatements “that damage the company or the company’s reputation or that disrupt or damage the company’s business relationships.”
- Never engage in behavior that would undermine the reputation of [the Employer], your peers or yourself.”
- Do not make “insulting, embarrassing, hurtful or abusive comments about other company employees online,” and “avoid the use of offensive, derogatory, or prejudicial comments.”
- Do not send “unwanted, offensive, or inappropriate” e-mails.
- “[A]ssociates are not authorized to answer questions from the news media. .. . When approached for information, you should refer the person to [the Employer’s] Media Relations Department.”
- Do “not use any Company logos, trademarks, graphics, or advertising materials” in social media.
- “No employee shall use any recording device including but not limited to, audio, video, or digital for the purpose of recording any [Employer] employee or [Employer] operation.. ..”
- Prohibition from wearing cell phones, making personal calls or viewing or sending texts “while on duty.”
- “Walking off the job …” is prohibited.
- Employees may not engage in “any action” that is “not in the best interest of [the Employer].”