THE NLRB: Do as We Say – Not as We Do!

We previously reported on the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) completely outrageous and unreasonable attacks on commonplace work rules and, in truth, best human resource practices.  A recent case has shed light on just how truly absurd the NRLB’s rulings are and, further, leave the NLRB with egg on its face.  

In NLRB v. T-Mobile the NLRB found T-Mobile violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by maintaining a confidentiality rule that is by no means uncommon.  Specifically, T-Mobile’s policy restricted employees who were involved in investigations regarding allegations of harassment and discrimination from divulging information concerning the circumstances of the ongoing investigation.  The purpose of the rule, of course, was to prevent these critical investigations from being tainted and to protect the privacy of those involved.

Notwithstanding the completely legitimate justifications supporting T-Mobile’s rule, the NLRB found the rule violated the NLRA.  According to the Board, the rule could be read by employees to restrict their right to discuss terms and conditions of employment or to otherwise chill the exercise of such rights.  Notably, the NLRB reached this conclusion even though T-Mobile’s rule specifically stated that it would not be applied to restrict any employee’s right to engage in activity protected by the NLRA.

Given the NLRB’s recent holdings, the conclusion here is by no means surprising and, in reality, was to be expected.  What is shocking, however, is the utter hypocrisy in the NLRB’s decision.  Indeed, the NLRB itself enforces a work rule that imposes these very requirements on its own employees.  The NLRB’s rule states:

Best practices for maintaining the integrity of internal investigations include keeping the names of witnesses confidential and requiring witnesses to maintain confidentiality in order to ensure that information provided by subsequent witnesses is not tainted.     

Apparently, only the NLRB has a legitimate interest in ensuring its internal workplace investigations are not compromised.  Other employers, however, have to revise their perfectly legitimate rules, in hopes the NLRB cannot concoct yet another far-fetched hypothetical in which employee rights could possibly be chilled.

If you have questions regarding work rules and the NLRB’s obnoxious enforcement efforts, or any other labor and employment related question, contact Masud Labor Law Group.