NLRB’s General Counsel Foreshadows More Expansive Restrictions on Separation Agreements Following the Board’s McLaren Macomb Decision
Overview: On February 21, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or Board) found two routinely standard separation agreement provisions—confidentiality as to the agreement and non-disparagement—to be unlawful when included in an agreement offered to an employee. McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58 (2023). This week NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued guidance in an effort to clarify the scope and impact of that decision. The General Counsel’s guidance takes an expansive view of McLaren Macomb, foreshadowing more restrictions on separation agreement and other employment agreements.
In McLaren Macomb, the NLRB held that employers violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when they offer severance agreements with provisions that would restrict employees in the exercise of their NLRA rights. The Board explained that, where an agreement “unlawfully conditions receipt of severance benefits on the forfeiture of statutory rights, the mere proffer of the agreement itself violates the [NLRA] because it has a reasonable tendency to interfere with or restrain the exercise” of NLRA rights.
NLRB General Counsel Takes an Expansive View of McLaren Macomb
The guidance from General Counsel Abruzzo—the chief investigator and prosecutor of violations of the NLRA—is a warning to employers about her expansive views of the reach of the McLaren Macomb decision. In her memorandum, the General Counsel provides the following insight about McLaren Macomb’s broader implications:
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