NLRB Embraces Stringent Review of Employer Dress Codes

On August 29, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) overturned a 2019 decision concerning the lawfulness of employer-promulgated dress codes and workplace apparel policies. In Tesla, Inc., the Board majority held that a workplace rule or policy that limits an employee’s ability to wear union insignia and logos is presumptively unlawful unless the employer can show that special circumstances exist to justify such a rule.

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Artificial Intelligence Briefing: FTC to Address Commercial Surveillance and Data Security

National Labor Relations Board and Federal Trade Commission execute Memorandum of Understanding to promote fair competition and advance workers’ rights.

On July 19, 2022, the NLRB and FTC formalized a partnership between the agencies that, among other things, will seek to protect worker rights from algorithmic decision-making. This is the most high-profile instance of the NLRB identifying algorithmic decision-making as something that could impact employee rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Employers with organized workforces (or workforces that could be the target of union organizing) should be aware of this development and the NLRB’s growing cooperation with the FTC.

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NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Increase Remedies in Refusal to Bargain Cases

On June 28, 2022, Jennifer Abruzzo, the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board), announced via Twitter that she petitioned the Board to adopt a compensatory make-whole remedy in refusal to bargain cases. In August 2021, Abruzzo issued an internal memorandum detailing potential changes she sought to effectuate during her tenure. The make-whole remedy, which was briefly mentioned in the General Counsel’s memorandum, would disincentivize employers from refusing to bargain with unions and is consistent with this administration’s policy goal of facilitating and increasing collective bargaining.

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Supreme Court Clarifies Transportation Worker Exception to Federal Arbitration Act

The Supreme Court unanimously held on June 6, 2022 that airline workers who load and unload cargo from airplanes are exempt from the coverage provided under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Employers commonly use the FAA to compel arbitration where disputes arise under employment agreements containing arbitration provisions. However, Section 1 of the FAA exempts “seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce” from the FAA’s coverage. According to the Supreme Court, workers who load and unload cargo onto airplanes fall within that exemption.

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Potential Changes to Labor Policy Under a Biden Administration

Employers should anticipate major changes to national labor policy when President-elect Joe Biden assumes the Oval Office. Through a combination of legislation and revisiting Trump-era NLRB decisions, the incoming administration will likely seek to increase union membership by facilitating organization, shortening election periods and reducing the bargaining period for the first collective bargaining agreement.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

NLRB Expands Employer Options for Social Media and Non-Disparagement Rules

With the COVID-19 emergency impacting employers’ operations and the way employees work, more and more employees may start taking to social media to vent their opinions about work and current events (sometimes intertwining the two). Employee social media expression can damage an organization’s brand and violate its social media and non-disparagement rules. Discipline for social media expression can run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which provides certain protections for employee speech, including social media speech, so that employees often believe that anything goes in this forum. Fortunately for employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently clarified the types of employee social media activity employers may regulate, giving employers more latitude to discipline employees for social media conduct that violates employer rules and threatens the employer’s reputation.

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