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 February 13, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that Starbucks violated federal labor law at multiple locations in Philadelphia in 2019 and 2020. The decision, issued by the NLRB’s three Democrats, found that Starbucks unlawfully threatened, surveilled, and interrogated employees, prohibited discussion of terms and conditions of employment, reduced the work hours of union supporters, and ultimately terminated two employees for engaging in protected activity.
The Federal Trade Commission announced that it will hold a virtual public forum on Thursday, February 16, 2023, to address its proposed rule on the use of non-competition agreements, as well as certain non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements. The purpose of this forum is to examine the proposed rule and provide an avenue for individuals, including both employees and employers, to voice their opinions and discuss their experiences with non-compete agreements.
The Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed rule that would, if adopted, ban the use of employment-based non-competes and require employers to rescind existing non-competes. The FTC’s proposed rule would reshape large segments of the American economy and supplant numerous recently enacted state statutes restricting the permissible use of non-competes and other restrictive covenants. If the proposed rule becomes effective, employers will need to consider alternatives to protect customer and employee relationships, and confidential information.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued its efforts to effectuate a strong national labor policy focused on advancing the organizational rights of workers and encouraging collective bargaining. Three recent decisions take aim at enhancing available remedies in unfair labor practice cases and facilitating organizing among smaller bargaining units.