Q: What is the current rule on whether an employee can use our company’s email system to distribute union material? Also, are we permitted to require employees to keep workplace investigations confidential without running afoul of the National Labor Relations Act?

A: There are actually two issues that arise from your question, and both were

Q. I heard there have been some significant National Labor Relations Board decisions recently. What do I need to know about them?

A. Over the past few months, the Board’s Republican majority has issued a series of employer-friendly decisions. They involve various topics, including expansion of employer property rights, classification of workers as independent contractors,

Q: How does the current National Labor Relations Board view employee handbook policies?

A: Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) has shifted in a more employer-friendly direction, including with respect to workplace policies.  In a December 2017 decision, the NLRB reassessed the standard for evaluating when neutral workplace rules violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In that decision, the Board defined three categories of employer handbook rules and policies: (1) rules that are generally lawful; (2) rules that warrant individualized scrutiny; and (3) rules that are plainly unlawful.
Continue Reading NLRB Provides Updated Guidance on Employer Policies and Handbooks

Q.  What is the current standard for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor for purposes of the NLRA?

A.   On Jan. 25, 2019, the Republican-led National Labor Relations Board affirmed the acting regional director’s decision that drivers of a shared airport ride service were independent contractors, not employees, and therefore not

Q.  What is the current rule for determining whether two employers are considered to be “joint employers” under the National Labor Relations Act?

A.  On September 14, 2018, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed a new regulation that would make it more challenging to establish joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. The proposed rule dictates that two entities will be joint employers only if each exercises substantial direct and immediate control over employees.
Continue Reading NLRB Proposes New Rule on Joint Employer Standard

Q.  Our Company just terminated an employee for a social media post that was in violation of our social media policy. Will she be entitled to unemployment compensation benefits?

A.  Possibly.

While unemployment compensation laws vary from state-to-state, former employees generally are entitled to benefits unless the employer can prove that the employee’s employment ended due to a disqualifying reason, such as willful misconduct or voluntary discharge.
Continue Reading Termination for Social Media Activity May Result in Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board issued yet another decision that makes it easier to unionize workers deemed “joint employees” of a staffing agency and its business customer.  In its July 11, 2016 decision in a case called Miller & Anderson, Inc. and Tradesmen International and Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local Union No. 19, AFL-CIO, the Board overturned a 2004 ruling known as Oakwood Care Center that required a business customer and a staffing agency to consent before a union election covering both jointly employed temporary workers and solely employed regular employees of the customer can occur.  Yesterday’s ruling reverses the consent requirement and takes us back to a prior ruling where consent was not required.  Now (as before 2004) a union election by regular and temporary workers together can occur simply where the Board finds that an employer’s workers and staffing agency employees working with it have an adequate “community of interest” to be part of one unit for unionization.
Continue Reading NLRB Continues Focus on Unionization of Temp Workers, Joint Employers

While speaking at a conference this year, I asked members of the Human Resources community to raise their hands if they routinely instructed employees not to discuss internal investigations.  No surprise, most of the hands (maybe all of them) went up.

For many good reasons, most employers instruct employees to keep the fact of and contents of investigations confidential.  For example, when investigations become public, employees often become less willing to come forward and discuss the nature of the investigation.  Also, in most instances the nature of the investigation involves sensitive information, like a harassment complaint.  Yet, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has indicated that reasons such as these are not legally sufficient to tell employees to keep their mouths shut.Continue Reading Keeping Internal Investigations Confidential: That’s Not Legal?

National_Labor_Relations_Board_logo_-_colorEarlier this year, on March 18, 2015, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. issued a report covering recent cases on employee handbook rules that encroached on employees’ Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  Griffin’s report (GC Memo 15-04) stated that the vast majority of handbook violations are due to employers’ failure to comply with the first prong of the Lutheran Heritage test.  The report also provides timely guidance to employers in light of a recent NLRB decision against a fast-food restaurant’s finding Section 7 violations in its employee handbook.
Continue Reading “Good” and “Bad” Employee Handbook Rules in Light of Increasing Section 7 Violations: The NLRB GC’s Report