What does the NLRB have against handbooks? Doesn’t the Board have policies and procedures for its employees? I imagine it does, don’t you? So why does the Board continue to find fault with employers’ workplace policies?
The Board’s recent Order has my head spinning like I spent the afternoon on a roller coaster. In GCA Services Group, Inc.,, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99, AFL-CIO, filed a UPL, contesting the legality of various provisions in the employer’s handbook. The employer and the Union resolved the dispute by a Formal Settlement Stipulation, which was approved by the Board on January 16, 2013.
As a result of the Stipulation, the employer must remove the disputed provisions from the hourly-employee handbook, which, according to the Board’s Order, are “overly broad and discriminatory.”
Ok, kids, hang on tight. Here’s where the ride gets a little scary. Please keep your arms and other body parts inside the car until we have completed the descent.
As you may have guessed, the Confidentiality provision was the first to go. Here’s just a portion of the offensive language:
Confidential, proprietary, and private information about [the Company], employees, and customers, is intended for use within the scope of your job at the facility.
Not only is the company’s information no longer confidential but the employees’ personnel records are now open for business. Here’s the language that the Board says have to go:
Your employment record is considered confidential and includes your resume, benefit selections, performance reviews, employment history, and other employment information.
Even the non-harassment policy was a problem! I’m guessing it was the following language regarding confidentiality that caused the Board heartburn:
Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigative process to the extent practicable and consistent with the Company’s need to undertake a full investigation.
Perhaps the biggest shocker was the issue the Board had with the company’s policy titled, Use of Communication Systems, which outlined the acceptable use of company-provided email.
The problem with the Settlement for purposes of prevention is that there’s no indication of what exactly the Board objected to or what language the Board would not find objectionable. It seems virtually impossible that the Board took issue with each and every sentence of each of the disputed policies. But we really don’t know, since large excerpts were quoted in the opinion. And we definitely don’t know how the provisions could be altered to comply with the NLRA.