Oops, the NLRB Does It Again—The Handbook Police Are Back!
Just yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a decision (Stericycle Inc.), which overrules its own 2017 Boeing Co. decision and establishes a new standard for evaluating employer handbook policies and rules under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Welcome (back) to what is the revolving door decision-making process that is the political machine of the NLRB.
Effectively, the current Biden NLRB has reversed one of the hallmark decisions of the Trump NLRB. When the Trump NLRB decided Boeing Co., it seemed to strike a balance in evaluating workplace rules, weighing the rule’s impact on workers’ NLRA rights against the employer’s legitimate business justification for the rule.
Although the concept of balancing those two potentially competing interests seems rational, the current NLRB Chair, Lauren McFerran, said that “Boeing gave too little consideration to the chilling effect that work rules can have on workers’ Section 7 rights.” NLRB Press Release 8/2/23. Taking that view to the extreme, the NLRB has shifted the bulk of the burden to employers to establish the legitimacy of the work rule. Under Stericycle, the most important consideration in evaluating a workplace rule is how an employee would understand it—not how the employer or a neutral third party might.
To read the full post, please visit our Blank Rome Workplace blog.