Part 2 – Social Media, the NLRB and Employer Policies

Employment At-Will Policies

Officials of the NLRB also declared key phrases in traditional employment-at-will policies to be unlawful in two cases filed in the Phoenix Region of the NLRB earlier this year. In one of those cases, the one that did not settle before trial, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held that an employer’s requirement that an employee sign an acknowledgment that the employee’s at-will status “could not be amended, modified or altered in any way” was unlawful because “[c]learly such a clause would reasonably chill employees who were interested in exercising their Section 7 rights [to engage in PCA].”

Although untested, it is possible that the following language would address the language cited by the ALJ as unlawful and cure any defects: “The at-will nature of employment with [Employer Name] may be modified only if in writing, signed by you or your representative and an authorized Center representative.” This language leaves open the possibility that an employee could have a representative, including a union, “negotiate” for a better deal than simply at-will employment and should be held to be lawful.

Off-Duty Access Policies

The NLRB also held a hotel chain’s “no off-duty access” rule to be unlawful because the rule reserved the right to the employer to exercise its discretion to grant exceptions to its general rule that employees were not allowed to enter onto its property when they were not working.” Under the rule of law applied by the NLRB, a no access rule is valid only if three conditions are met. The rule must (1) limit access solely with respect to the interior of the employer’s premises and other working areas; (2) be clearly disseminated to all employees; and (3) apply to off-duty employees seeking access to the facility for any purpose and not just to those engaging in union activity.

Employers who want to ban employees from coming onto their property when they are not working will have to meet all three of these criteria. As result, lawful no-access rules will be harsher and cannot include any exceptions.


By its nature, the NLRB is prone to what experts call “policy oscillations” where its interpretations of the law may change with the political party in power at any given time. To some degree these fluctuations can be expected. However, the current NLRB seems to have taken a dramatic turn in the expansive way it views employee rights. Employers should be aware of these recent developments and should review their work rules and policies to make sure that they still comply with the law as viewed by the current NLRB. Specifically, employers should revise their social media, employment-at-will and no-access polices as soon as possible.

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
This entry was posted in concerted protected activity, discipline and discharge, employer policies, hospitality, NLRB, unions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s