We recently held a Labor Law Update “breakfast briefing” that focused on recent intrusions by the National Labor Relations Board into the workplace under the guise of protecting employees’ rights to organize under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Since the briefing, the NLRB has issued two more decisions along the same lines:
No Access Rules
In a recently-published NLRB decision involving Marriott International, the NLRB invalidated a work rule that restricted employee access to the hotel’s interior more than 15 minutes before or after a worker’s work shift, but allowed exceptions with prior approval from the workers’ manager. The Board also ruled unlawful a revised access rule that restricted access to numerous specific parts of the hotel’s property, such as guest rooms or guest facilities, without managerial approval. Marriott International, Inc. and UNITE HERE, 359 NLRB No. 8 (2012)
In Knauz BMW, 358 NLRB No. 164, the Board found unlawful a rule in a car dealership’s employee handbook prohibiting “disrespectful language or other language that injures the image or reputation of the Dealership.” The Board incredibly noted that “reasonable employees would believe that even courteous, polite and friendly expressions of disagreement with the [Dealership’s] employment practices or terms and conditions of employment risk being deemed disrespectful or damaging to the [Dealership’s] image or reputation.” Therefore, in the eyes of the Board, the rule violated the employees’ Section 7 rights.
What to Do
Every employer needs to carefully review its employee handbook, work rules and policies to conform with the NLRB’s continued unconventional reading of the law. While these decisions continue to defy common sense, employers need to comply now, well before union organizing begins.