Although I believe that most employers do not draft their employee handbooks with the object of prohibiting or restricting conduct protected by the National Labor Relations Act, the law does not allow even well intentioned rules that would inhibit employees from engaging in activities protected by the Act. Richard F. Griffin, Jr. General Counsel for the NLRB.
The franchise world has taken considerable heat from the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] over the issue of joint employment. But that is not the only area of scrutiny that franchisors are facing from the NLRB. Wendy’s International LLC is taking heat about some of the employee Rules.
On its website, it affirmatively says: The National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.
Pursuant to an informal, bilateral NLRB settlement agreement, Wendy’s International LLC agreed to modify its handbook Rules. The unmodified Rules were found to be “unlawful and overboard.” Here is a look at the Rules before and after modification:
There is one other thing. While not mentioned as a modified Rule, the NLRB made a point of calling out Wendy’s International LLC’s third-party representation provision, which “communicated that unions are not beneficial or in the interest of Wendy’s: [b]ecause Wendy’s desires to maintain open and direct communications with all of our employees, we do not believe that third party/union involvement in our relationship would benefit our employees or Wendy’s.” Now, if that doesn’t make the NLRB salty? Unions are not beneficial. Don’t write that in your employee rules. Really!
Take a look at your employee rule book and operating manuals. Are there provisions that are unlawful or overboard? Sometimes the slightest clauses intended to protect business interest can be viewed by the NLRB as unlawful or overboard.