The National Labor Relations Board Continues its Assault on Employer Handbook Policies
In a recent case involving both T-Mobile and Metro PCS the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) continued to act as a super-personnel department, picking apart policies in employee handbooks. The NLRB found that a policy requiring employees to communicate in a positive and professional manner was overbroad. It also determined that policies requiring employees to behave in a professional manner and to communicate “in a manner that is conducive of effective working relationships,” could be reasonably construed by employees as prohibiting disagreements or conflicts, including protected activity such as discussions about the terms and conditions of their employment. It ruled that these policies were a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRB further found that a policy prohibiting employees from recording people or confidential information in the workplace using cameras, camera phones, or other recording was a violation of the Act. The Board found the policy overbroad in that it did not limit the restriction to work time and/or work areas. The Board opined that employees could reasonably believe that the policy restricted their ability to document the terms and conditions of their employment and, in doing so, limited employees’ ability to obtain evidence of protected concerted activity.
There were several other policies reviewed by the Board in its decision. Policies that have typically been accepted as appropriate are now being declared unlawful by the Board. Employers should carefully construct handbook policies, as well as review and update them on an ongoing basis, otherwise, it may face scrutiny from the NLRB.
The Board’s Decision may be accessed here: https://www.nlrb.gov/case/14-CA-106906