The National Labor Relations Board (Board) is continuing its focus on non-union employers with another ruling against a seemingly innocuous handbook policy. In Remington Lodging & Hospitality (362 NLRB 124, 6/18/15), the Board held that an employer’s conflict-of-interest policy was unlawfully over-broad. As many of our members know, handbook policies are illegal if a reasonable employee could interpret them to prohibit the exercise of rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. Specifically, employer policies may not prohibit or chill the exercise of protected, concerted activity regarding wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.
In Remington, hotel managers established and enforced a conflict of interest rule that prohibited employees from any “conflict of interest with the hotel or company.” The Board is laser-focused on these types of vague policies. Employers should make sure that they actually define and give examples of what types of behavior are permitted. A broad prohibition on “conflicts of interest” could, in the Board’s view, lead a reasonable employee to conclude that starting a union or complaining to the media about wages (both protected activities) are violations. MSEC Labor Relations staff are available to assist with handbook policies to help you avoid issues like those raised in Remington.