On March 22, 2023, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board), Jennifer Abruzzo, issued guidance about the Board’s McLaren Macomb decision from earlier this year. The guidance made clear that the General Counsel will, when given the opportunity, prosecute a case before the Board to have the NLRB invalidate provisions in severance agreements that attempt to restrict the rights of departing employees to engage in activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The General Counsel also emphasized her view of the retroactive application of the decision, noting that employers attempting to enforce old severance agreements will face new unfair labor practice liability even if the statute of limitations has run since the execution of the now-unlawful agreement. Although the General Counsel’s memorandum is not law, employers should pay close attention as the guidance indicates the position the General Counsel will take in prosecuting allegedly unlawful severance agreements.
The decision of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) in McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58 ( Feb. 21, 2023), reinstates a limit on the confidentiality, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement clauses that employers may include in severance agreements with most of their lower-level employees. While the Board bills its decision as a return to the standard applied in earlier cases, this decision suggests that the Board will take a broader view of how such agreements infringe on employees’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.
On July 13, 2022, Maryland’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, held that state wage law claims for certain travel pay survive summary judgment despite the fact that such payments are not required under the federal Portal-To-Portal Act (PPA or the Act). The Court of Appeals interprets Maryland law as requiring wage payments for time spent waiting and traveling to a worksite if the waiting site is considered a prescribed workplace.