Can a business have a rule banning employees from discussing payroll information?
A business maintained a rule in its employee handbook that makes the discussion of payroll information a disciplinary matter. Employees of the business filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging this handbook rule, among other things. The matter went to a hearing (trial) before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Imagefirst, NLRB Cases 22–Ca–161563 22–Ca–181197 (April 18, 2017)
On April 18, 2017 the ALJ issued a Decision which explained that the NLRB has held that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it maintains a work rule that reasonably tends to chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights. The ALJ explained that a work rule is unlawful if it explicitly restricts activities protected by Section 7. Therefore, according to the NLRB, a business violates the law if 1) employees would reasonably construe the language to prohibit Section 7 activity; and/or 2) that the rule was promulgated in response to protected activity and/or 3) that the rule has been applied to restrict the exercise of Section 7 rights.
The Judge concluded that the business’s maintenance of its rule against the discussion of payroll information violates Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA regardless of why it was promulgated or whether it was ever enforced or disseminated.
“On its face it prohibits the discussion of wages, hours and benefits. There is no other ‘payroll information’ to which a rank and file employee would be privy. A reasonable employee would interpret it to warn against discussing wages, hours and benefits, which they clearly have a right to do under Section 7 of the Act, with other employees and with others from whom they wish to enlist support in improving their working conditions.”
As punishment to the employer, the Judge ordered the business to cease and desist from maintaining its illegal rule in its employee handbook which provided for discipline for discussing payroll information.
The Judge also ordered the business to rescind its handbook rule which provided for discipline for employees discussing payroll information.
Furthermore, the Judge ordered the business to post for 60 days a Notice that the federal government has found that the business violated Federal labor law and has ordered the business to post and obey this notice. The notice had to be posted in conspicuous places throughout the worksite. In addition to physical posting of paper notices, the notices also had to be distributed electronically, such as by email, and the business’s website. The notice directed employees to contact the government if they wanted to learn how to file an unfair labor charge against the business.
The NLRA applies to nearly all Florida businesses. If you need any assistance in determining whether the NLRA applies to your Florida business or if you think you might have illegal language in your employee handbook, please email or call the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. at 1-772-465-5111.
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