On Monday, August 29, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board issued its first precedent-shifting decision under the Biden administration, which will have the effect of permitting more apparel with union insignia in the workplace.
The Law on the Display of Union Insignia. An employer’s interference with an employee’s display of union insignia on their apparel is presumed to be unlawful, unless the employer can demonstrate “special circumstances” to justify the interference. Special circumstances are found when the display jeopardizes employee safety, equipment or product safety, or unreasonably interferes with a public image which the employer has established as part of its business plan. The Board had previously held in its 2019 Wal-Mart Stores decision that the “special circumstances” test applied only when an employer completely prohibited union insignia, and that certain size-and-appearance restrictions on union insignia could be lawful based on less compelling employer interests. However, the Board has now reversed itself in Tesla, Inc. to assert that the special circumstances test will apply to any restriction, and not just total bans.