The National Labor Relations Board has now addressed the use of mandatory arbitration agreements following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis, which upheld the enforceability of arbitration agreements containing waivers of the right to bring class or collective actions over employment-related disputes, rejecting the NLRB’s then-position that such waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), as discussed in our prior E-lert.
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In May of 2013, some Walmart employees boarded buses bound for Bentonville, Arkansas to attend the Company’s annual shareholders meeting. The buses formed a caravan, picking up employees at Walmart locations on the way. The employees handed strike letters to their managers before departing.

The caravan was dubbed the “Ride for Respect.” It was organized by OUR Walmart, a group formed with the assistance of the United Food and Commercial Worker Union (UFCW). Once in Bentonville, the employees held demonstrations, attended the shareholder meeting, and engaged in other activities to publicize their grievances.
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Here’s another in my sometimes series of crazy things that employees (and, in this case, the National Labor Relations Board) do. Although the Board initially thought that employees playing driving games at highway speeds was protected activity (?!!), it has (fortunately for the rest of us drivers) rethought that position after being slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
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The General Counsel (GC) of the National Labor Relations Board issued a memo on October 24, 2018 that focused on the unions’ duty of fair representation to their bargaining unit members. Numerous commentators, including management-side attorneys (as I am), trumpeted the fact that the Board is holding unions accountable. There seemed to be a feeling that, after years of employers being attacked by a left-leaning Board, the playing field is being re-leveled. But, as my partner Mike McGuire pointed out, is this really good for employers?
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On June 6, 2018, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued guidance on lawful and unlawful handbook rules under the National Labor Relations Act. This guidance follows the GC’s December 1, 2017 withdrawal of prior guidance on handbook rules that had been issued in 2015. Shortly thereafter, on December 14, 2017, the Board issued its decision in The Boeing Co., in which it articulated a new and more balanced test for assessing the legality of workplace rules, applicable to both unionized and non-unionized employers. 
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Many employers would like to ensure that employees focus on their work during their working time – after all, that’s what they’re being paid to do! One way employers attempt to prevent distractions is by implementing a policy that prohibits employees from soliciting their co-workers (Buy cookies! Participate in this raffle! Come to my church supper! Join a union!) or giving them written materials to read while at work.
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Practitioners of labor law know that the 5-member panel comprising the National Labor Relations Board is appointed by the President of the United States. The Board majority (three members) are from the President’s party and the remaining two members are from the other party. As the administration changes, so does the Board majority.
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The National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel recently issued an Advice Memorandum and, although the employer and employee names are blanked out, it obviously is about James Damore and Google. Unless you have been in the wilds of Pago Pago for a year, you have heard the story of James Damore, the “Googler” (that’s what they call themselves at Google) who, in response to one too many company diversity training initiatives, prepared a memo to convey his thoughts and engage in open dialogue.
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