For the past few years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been on the warpath over employer personnel policies (and in turn, we at Labor & Employment Law Perspectives have missed few opportunities to point out the NLRB’s relentless campaign against employers). Policy language which had been commonplace and acceptable for decades has suddenly been deemed to have a “chilling” effect on employee rights under federal labor law, and therefore, is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. Many of these decisions have been arbitrary, inconsistent, and lacking in common sense. Nevertheless, employers — both union and non-union — are stuck with them, at least for the time being. Therefore you need to stay abreast of the latest developments in this area.
While the dizzying array of recent NLRB decisions on personnel policy language is often very fact specific, and seemingly dependent on factors which defy easy description or understanding, there are certain categories of personnel policies that have received the most recent attention from the NLRB. There are a handful of patterns that seem to emerge from each of those areas:
Unions are more and more often filing unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB about personnel policy language in an effort to gain organizing leverage against non-union facilities. For these reasons, employers of all kinds should review their policies regularly in order to ensure they do not violate the latest and not-so-greatest NLRB standards in this ever-changing area.