This press release just came out from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce discussing a report they just released discussing how a series of NLRB decisions related to employee handbooks is having a detrimental impact on workplace conduct in American workplaces. I’ve mentioned this trend several times during the past six months when speaking to industry gatherings or at SHRm events.
As mentioned in the report, this is creating a problem for employers by construing reasonable rules to be improper because they could undermine section 7 rights for employees, but in many cases, these rulings seem to have gone too far.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative (WFI) today released a new report detailing the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) increasing hostility to commonsense employee handbook policies. Theater of the Absurd: The NLRB Takes on the Employee Handbook reviews cases in which the agency has negated a wide range of reasonable workplace rules, such as requests to act courteously, and rules to protect sensitive confidential and proprietary information.
“The NLRB is using an inexplicable interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act to strike down commonplace handbook policies,” said Glenn Spencer, vice president of WFI. “Employers shouldn’t be sanctioned for seeking to maintain stable, well-run workplaces that are free of harassment and discourteous behavior.”
The report cites cases where the NLRB found that policies against disruptive behavior including intimidation, harassment, insubordination, and profanity were unlawful. The report also reviews cases in which the agency voided policies requesting that employees treat co-workers and customers with respect; that asked employees to keep workplace investigations confidential; and that sought to protect trade secrets.
Theater of the Absurd also highlights instances where NLRB directives might get employers in trouble with other agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Finally, it looks at handbook “guidance” issued by the NLRB that simply causes more confusion. For example, the guidance cites as unlawful a policy asking employees to avoid “offensive, derogatory, or prejudicial comments,” but finds lawful a policy that says employees should not use “racial slurs, derogatory comments, or insults.”
To read the full study, visit www.WorkforceFreedom.com.