The National Labor Relations Board issued a decision that two provisions in an employee handbook and two corporate policies were unlawful because employees would reasonably construe them as prohibiting Section 7 activity. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act prohibits restrictions against the lawful communications of employees about their wages, hours or working conditions.
In this matter, the employee handbook contained a provision which stated, “Do not contact the media.” The NLRB found that this policy was unlawful because it did not distinguish between protected Section 7 communications and those communications which are unprotected, such as maliciously false statements.
Another handbook policy stated that employees had to refer all requests for interviews from law enforcement agencies to the company’s security department in California. The NLRB again found such policy to be unlawful because it was too broad in that it could impact an employee’s contact with law enforcement officials about wages, hours and working conditions. The NLRB referred to an earlier decision that Section 7 protects employees’ concerted cooperation with the local sheriff concerning an investigation of a company manager embezzling company funds.
The NLRB ordered that the company immediately rescind these policies.
Just as an employee handbook is a “living” document which reflects changes in the workplace and business conditions, these legal decisions also mandate a careful review of existing policies.