NLRB General Counsel Encourages Increased Scrutiny of Electronic Employee Monitoring

On October 31, 2022, the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memorandum instructing regional offices to closely scrutinize employer use of certain electronic monitoring, data collection and automated management technologies. This memorandum further evidences the NLRB’s commitment to effectuating a strong national labor policy which includes protecting employees’ organizational rights and encouraging collective bargaining as described in our November 2020 client alert. Abruzzo reiterated these policy objectives in her February 2022 memorandum issued in support of the Biden administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment’s February 2022 labor report.

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NLRB Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Increase Scope of Joint Employment Relationships

On September 6, 2022, a split National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) released its long-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would lessen the burden in proving that two companies jointly employ workers under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This proposed standard, in effect, would increase the scope of joint employment relationships to include indirect and unexercised control over the essential terms and conditions of a job. In contrast, the prior standard — adopted in April 2020 by a Republican-majority Board — required that an employer have direct and immediate control over these essential terms and conditions. Moreover, the putative joint employer had to actually exercise that control. Before that, in 2015, a Democrat-majority Board issued a decision holding that a company need only hold indirect control over the terms and conditions of employment to be considered a joint employer.

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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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NLRB’s General Counsel Announces Support for White House Labor Report

On February 10, 2022, the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued Memorandum GC 22-03 announcing her agreement with and support of the Biden administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment (Task Force) February 7, 2022 report. The Task Force was created by executive order in April 2021 to identify ways the executive branch can promote worker organization and collective bargaining through existing policies and programs. The Task Force’s report included recommendations to increase organizing and encourages collaboration between government agencies focused on worker protection. In addition to instructing field offices to adopt the recommendations outlined in the report, Abruzzo’s memorandum details current interagency undertakings and outlines future efforts to strengthen those collaborations.

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