Earlier this month, the NLRB issued a guidance on employee handbook rules, which follows its landmark decision in The Boeing Company last December. The Boeing case established a new standard when evaluating whether a work rule violates the law, and focused on the negative impact on the employees’ ability to exercise their rights and the policy’s connection to the employer’s right to maintain discipline and productivity in the workplace. The guidance signals that the new General Counsel will take a more employer friendly approach than the Obama NLRB did in interpreting federal labor law. The new memo makes clear that employees can be reprimanded for violating rules that prohibit rude, discourteous or unbusinesslike behavior.
While this memo is a welcome change for employers, as always, you should check with employment counsel when formulating new rules for company handbooks.