NLRB seeks to expand authority in nonunionized workplaces

If it seems like the National Labor Relations Board is having an increasingly bigger say in what goes on in the workplace – unionized or not – you’re right.

Labor and employment attorney Michael Lauderdale was interviewed by The Oklahoman on just why and how the NLRB is expanding is authority.

“In the past, the NLRB primarily focused on assisting employees in the formation of unionized workplaces,” said Lauderdale. “However, under the guise of its mission to monitor and protect any and all employee speech that addresses ‘workplace conditions,’ the NLRB is attempting to force non-unionized workplaces to back off from policies and procedures that were previously normal course of business.” Areas of focus include certain workplace investigation procedures as well as policies relating to social media, gossiping and other behavior deemed to be unprofessional, and the use of email for non-business purposes.

Even dress codes have come under NLRB scrutiny. In one recent matter, the NLRB ruled that an employer could not prevent an employee from wearing a T-shirt that contained a graphic of a ball and chain and the word “SLAVE” on it. Such a code, ruled the NLRB, violated federal labor law.

While the NLRB has already had its say on many of these issues, Lauderdale said he expects many of the Board’s decisions will ultimately be challenged in federal court.