On December 1, 2017, newly appointed General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), Peter Robb, issued his first Memorandum, outlining the agenda of the NLRB under the Trump Administration. (Memorandum GC 18-02) In keeping with past practice after a change in administration from one party to the other, Mr. Robb rescinded seven (7) memoranda issued by prior General Counsels, including GC 15-04, the memorandum that provided guidelines concerning employee rules and policies.
As you may recall from past updates, the NLRB under President Obama reviewed common personnel policies, such as confidentiality and employee conduct provisions, with an eye toward whether such rules would inhibit employees from engaging in activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act. In GC 15-04, then General Counsel Richard Griffin, Jr., provided examples of rules that did and did not violate the Act causing employers much consternation.
While Mr. Robb has rescinded GC 15-04, that does not mean that the NLRB will not be concerned with employee policies. He identifies cases involving issues relating to common employer handbook rules, including rules prohibiting "disrespectful" conduct, use of employer trademarks and logos, and confidentiality, as cases that must be submitted to the NLRB's Division of Advice. However, while decisions will be based on existing law, Mr. Robb has noted that in these areas "we also might want to provide the Board with an alternative analysis."
Mr. Robb also rescinded GC 17-01 which stated that college football players at private universities are employees under the Act, and, therefore, they are entitled to seek pay for their contributions and to request improved working conditions.
Employers certainly have reason to believe that future NLRB decisions will be generally pro-management with the new General Counsel and Board in place.