NLRB Takes Aim at Employee Handbooks
Overly broad handbook provisions threaten employee rights to engage in “protected concerted activity,”
NLRB report warns.
On March 18, 2015, the National Labor
Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel issued a
report concerning employer rules
that highlights a number
of recent cases in which the NLRB found employee handbook
provisions that violate the National Labor Relations Act.
The report noted that some handbook
provisions are overly broad and may, sometimes indirectly,
impact employee rights to engage in certain kinds of employee
activity known as protected concerted activity under
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Protected
concerted activity generally involves employee rights to discuss
wages, hours and working conditions. These rights also encompass
the right of employees to make comments critical of the
The report discusses handbook provisions
in areas such as confidentiality, professionalism,
anti-harassment, media contact, photography in the workplace,
and trademark. It also provides examples of language that were
found to be problematic and compares that with language deemed
Finally, the report provides useful guidance to employers about what can and cannot be lawfully contained in employee handbooks. Employers seeking to ensure that their policies appropriately address these issues should review the report.