The NLRB attacks codes of conduct

The NLRB attacks codes of conduct

Joe Murphy – Compliance & Ethics Professional – July 2015


If you do business in the U.S. and have a code of conduct or employee handbook in this country, then here is something for your “Must Read” list. The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued his “Report of the General Counsel Concerning Employer Rules,” March 18, 2015. This 30-page memo could just as well be titled: “Why the language you have used in your code of conduct for years violates the National Labor Relations Act.” I suggest you read it and then count how many times your code of conduct, HR handbook, employee manual, etc., may be violating US federal law.

For example, which of these statements would you think is illegal?

  1. Do not discuss “customer or employee information” outside of work, including “phone numbers [and] addresses.”
  2. “Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.”
  3. Do not make “insulting, embarrassing, hurtful, or abusive comments about other company employees online,” and “avoid the use of offensive, derogatory, or prejudicial comments.”
  4. “[A]ssociates are not authorized to answer questions from the news media. …When approached for information, you should refer the person to [the Employer’s] Media Relations Department.”

. . .

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