With union activity relatively quiet during the Obama presidency, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) spent much of its attention regulating the non-union workplace, issuing decisions on handbooks, computer use, wearing of Hawaiian shirts, social media, and bringing smart phones to work.
This NLRB attention spawned many decisions which left employers scratching their heads. That trend is changing. With the election of President Trump, the NLRB, with the new Republican majority, is taking a fresh look at these Obama era decisions.
During the Obama NLRB, employers were required to review their handbooks to remove words, phrases or sentences that were offensive to the NLRB, such as:
- Rules against “abusive and threatening language” in the workplace.
- Rules expecting employees to “represent the company in a positive…manner …”
- Rules prohibiting “any conduct which is disloyal, disruptive, competitive or damaging to the company.”
- Rules prohibiting “verbal or other statements which are slanderous or detrimental to the company or the company’s employees.”
- Rules requiring employees to not be disrespectful.
- Rules requiring employees to be courteous.
According to the Obama NLRB, these simple, basic rules and policies could “reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights" because employees would not know what was permissible conduct, “courteous conduct” or “discourteous conduct” and it might interfere with their ability to engage in conduct protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Employees disciplined under any one of these commonsense rules could run to the NLRB for “protection.”
Now, the Trump NLRB is on track to change many of these preposterous rulings and allow managers to reestablish control over the workplace.
Contributed by Donald Scharg of Bodman.
View the on-demand webinar “Recent NLRB Decisions Benefit Employers” with Don.