Faced with increasing enforcement by the National Labor Relations Board and the possibility of paying months or years of back wages, employers should be concerned whether or not their employee handbook and policies are legal.
Harter Secrest & Emery LLP hosted a training session on the topic Tuesday morning at its Rochester office to help business owners, managers and human resource professionals understand the recent guidance by the NLRB, identify potentially problematic policies and provide suggestions on how to improve their policies and procedures.
HSE attorneys Luke Wright and Ben Mudrick discussed the report issued by the general counsel for the NLRB on March 18, which is applicable to union and nonunion private employers. The report calls attention to recent NLRB decisions that have questioned the legality of many common employment policies, including those often contained in standard employee handbooks.
At issue are employer policies that affect employees’ rights to engage in concerted activity to address compensation, benefits and other conditions and terms of employment. Examples found unlawful include confidentiality, work rules, social media, cellphones and cameras, electronic communications and ‘at will’ employment.
“Many employers are surprised to learn that certain policy language alone can result in violations of the law and unwanted legal consequences, even when the policy isn’t enforced in an illegal way ,” said Wright, an attorney in the firm’s Labor & Employment practice group. “Given the NLRB’s recent focus on the practices of nonunion employers, now is the time to review policies and make any necessary updates.”
Mudrick, also a member of the Labor & Employment practice group, said the NLRB has increased enforcement and assertiveness during the last couple of years.
“It’s easy for employers who have good intentions to run afoul of the NLRB, so it’s important to exercise caution when changing or adopting new policies at work,” Mudrick said.