Many workplace policies and employee handbooks contain restrictions on employees speaking to the media.  Through these policies, employers often seek to limit what organizational information is disclosed to third parties, and to exercise at least some control over statements that may be attributed to the company.  Such restrictions, though, may be found to violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act due to overbreadth when not drafted carefully.
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On April 16, newly confirmed member John Ring was sworn in as the fifth member and Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, establishing a Republican-controlled Board.   While all has been relatively quiet with regard to rulings from the Board,  we will likely see a rise in activity now that the NLRB (with a  newly-minted majority) is poised to roll back some of the Obama-era rulings.
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Recently the National Labor Relations Board invited interested parties and amici to submit briefs in Velox Express, Inc. to address under what circumstances, if any, the Board should deem an employer’s misclassifying statutory employees as independent contractors constitutes a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.  Briefs from parties and interested amici must be submitted on or before April 16, 2018.
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On December 14, 2017, in a 3-2 decision along party lines, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) issued a decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017) case. This is a significant and long-awaited victory for employers grappling with unfair labor practice charges stemming from facially neutral workplace rules and signals the Board’s intent to retreat from regulating non-union activity.
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Two recent rulings have labor law observers questioning where the line is in disciplining employees for making offensive or obscene comments toward their employer. Seemingly at odds are a recent Second Circuit ruling finding such behavior is protected activity under the NLRA and a recent NLRB ruling finding the use of profanity towards management is not protected.
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[From Hunton’s Retail Blog] If you are a retailer, you may have policies and procedures in place regarding who can speak on behalf of your company. Such policies may generally instruct employees not to speak to the press as a representative of the company, and to direct all media inquiries to a particular person or department. Similarly, if you are a retailer, you may have a policy in place that instructs employees to forward any reference requests to your human resources department. These commonplace policies allow retailers to control their public image and protect employee privacy, among other benefits.
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The United States Supreme Court has granted consolidated review of three cases to determine whether arbitration agreements that waive employees’ rights to participate in a class action lawsuit against their employer are unlawful. The Court’s decision to address the uncertainty surrounding class action waivers of employment claims follows a circuit split last year in which the Fifth and Eighth circuits upheld such waivers and the Seventh and Ninth circuits found that such waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act. Given the increasingly widespread use of class action waivers by employers to stem costly class and collective actions, the high court’s ruling is likely to have a significant nationwide impact.
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