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.
Employers who have watched the National Labor Relations Board — the nation’s primary enforcer of labor law — over the years anticipate that it will reshuffle its priorities soon after the White House changes parties. The agency swore in Jennifer Abruzzo as its new general counsel on July 22, 2021; and three weeks later, Abruzzo released an internal memorandum that is a blueprint for changes to the law she would like to see the agency implement.
Signaling the beginning of what likely will be a major policy shift, Peter Ohr, acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, revoked 12 administrative guidance memoranda issued by his predecessor, Peter Robb. Both union and nonunion employers should keep a close eye on further action by Ohr.
For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.
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.
On July 21, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) issued a long-awaited decision giving employers more freedom to discipline employees who engage in abusive, obscene or profane conduct in connection with their work. In General Motors, LLC, 369 NLRB No. 127 (2020), the NLRB rejected three context-specific rules formerly used to assess whether an employee’s inappropriate conduct is protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or the Act). Instead, the NLRB will now assess that conduct under the Wright Line standard, which is used to evaluate all other claims of discriminatory conduct under the Act.
On July 20, labor organizations across the country are planning a “Strike for Black Lives,” a national walkout in support of “dismantling racism and white supremacy to bring about fundamental changes in our society, economy and workplaces.” When preparing for this and any political strike, employers should develop a response strategy — grounded in NLRB interpretations of employees’ rights to conduct political demonstrations — to limit liability and keep their businesses running.