Human Resources

Unintended Consequences and Your Employee Handbook

The National Labor Relations Board, “NLRB,” could find well-intended rules in your employee handbook to be unlawful. Which of the following handbook rules do you think the NLRB found unlawful?

  • Do not discuss customer or employee information outside of work, including phone numbers and addresses.
  • Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
  • Disrespectful conduct or insubordination, including, but not limited to, refusing to follow orders from a supervisor or a designated representative is prohibited.
  • Chronic resistance to proper work-related orders or discipline, even though not overt insubordination will result in discipline.
  • It is important that employees practice caution and discretion when posting content on social media that could affect the Employer’s business operation or reputation.
  • Do not send unwanted, offensive, or inappropriate e-mails.
  • Material that is fraudulent, harassing, embarrassing, sexually explicit, profane, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, or otherwise unlawful or inappropriate may not be sent by e-mail.
  • Employees are not authorized to speak to any representatives of the print and/or electronic media about company matters unless designated to do so by HR, and must refer all media inquiries to the company media hotline.
  • Do not use any Company logos, trademarks, graphics, or advertising materials in social media.
  • Taking unauthorized pictures or video on company property is prohibited.
  • No employee shall use any recording device including but not limited to, audio, video, or digital for the purpose of recording any Employer, employee or Employer operation.
  • Wearing cell phones, making personal calls or viewing or sending texts while on duty is prohibited.
  • Failure to report to your scheduled shift for more than three consecutive days without prior authorization or walking off the job during a scheduled shift is prohibited.
  • You may not email, post, comment or blog anonymously. You may think it is anonymous, but it is most likely traceable to you and the Company.
  • Do Not Disparage: Be thoughtful and respectful in all your communications and dealings with others, including email and social media. Do not harass, threaten, libel, malign, defame, or disparage fellow professionals, employees, clients, competitors or anyone else. Do not make personal insults, use obscenities or engage in any conduct that would be unacceptable in a professional environment.

The answer is that the NLRB found ALL of the above handbook rules to be unlawful. Slight revisions to them would make them lawful. Our experts would be happy to assist you with maintaining a compliant employee handbook.


*The NLRB’s position on the above could change under the Trump administration, but thus far this remains the latest guidance from the NLRB General Counsel.