On June 6, 2018, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board published a memo regarding employer handbook policies. On December 14, 2017, the NLRB issued a new guidance based on the cases in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154. This memo is important in determining whether language contained in an employee handbook would give rise to an Unfair Labor Practice.
In Boeing, the Board analyzed previous decisions regarding the legality of employee handbook rules. Following the board’s decision Boeing, the General Counsel of the NLRB has created a guide to help understand and apply the new rules which stem from this decision. A new standard evolved from Boeing involving balancing the potential impact of the rule on the rights of employees against the employer’s justification for implementing a rule.
The decision creates three categories “work rules” may fall under:
• generally, rules in the first category are lawful. They include those requiring civility and authorization to speak on behalf of the employer and preclude the disclosure of confidential customer information;
• rules in the second category call for “individualized scrutiny.” Examples include those regulating off-duty conduct, confidentiality and conflicts of interest; and
• rules in the third category constitute those that remain unlawful. Examples of rules which remain unlawful include those against joining outside organizations or that require employees to keep the terms and conditions of their work confidential.
These changes are solely in regards to the rules employers may construct and include in their employee handbooks. It is important to remember that this memo merely represents guidelines. The memo is not binding. Rather, the. Memo only provides insight as to how the General Counsel will determine whether or not to dismiss charges on handbook policies without a hearing.
If you or someone you know needs help interpreting, drafting, or determining the legality of language contained in an employee handbook, contact Gilbert Law Group today.
Contributed by Nicole Mattern
The Office of the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued 13 complaints against McDonald’s franchisees as well as their franchisor, McDonald’s USA, LLC alleging various labor law violations. The complaints follow the NLRB General Counsel’s announcement in July 2014 that McDonald’s USA may be held to be liable as a “joint employer” for unfair labor practices committed by its individual franchisees. This represents a departure from a long-standing precedent regarding franchise joint employer liability.
The 13 complaints allege that the individual franchises violated their employees’ right to engage in protect concerted activity. In other words, they took actions against them for engaging in activities aimed at improving their wages and other terms and conditions of their employment. This includes participating in nationwide fast food worker protests during the past two years. If successful, this would mean that under certain circumstances, a franchisor can be held liable for any unfair labor practices perpetrated by any of its franchisees. Such a precedent would have have a significant impact on franchise joint employer liability.
The NLRB posted on its website a “McDonald’s Fact Sheet” in which it claims McDonald’s USA “through its franchise relationship and its use of tools, resources and technology, engages in sufficient control over its franchisees’ operations, beyond protection of the brand, to make it a putative joint employer with its franchisees” sufficient to share liability for its franchisees’ violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
The results of these complaints will not be determined for some time. Franchisors should take note, however, there are steps a franchisor can take to mitigate its risk of being declared a joint employer of its franchisees’ employees under the current law, as well as potentially under any new law. These steps will also lessen the risk of a finding of common law vicarious liability for a franchisee’s employment practices in most states.
For more information regarding franchising and/or ways to avoid being declared a joint employer and therefore avoid liability for a franchisees’ employment issues call Gilbert Law Group today. 631-630-0100.