NLRB Region 28 in Phoenix recently issued a Complaint against Hyatt Hotels Corporation, alleging that many of the company's policies, guidelines and rules are overly broad and discriminatory, having the effect of interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights. The broad-based Complaint takes issue with many of the typical guidelines and rules employers have in place, including codes of business conduct and ethics, social media policies, appearance guidelines, acknowledgement forms, and employee handbooks. The Complaint specifically identifies numerous provisions that the Region considers to be problematic:

From the Social Media Policy covering online networks, blogs and other social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, employees must

  • "Avoid commenting on Hyatt or any Hyatt location," and
  • "Refrain from posting images of Hyatt's locations or facilities or displaying Hyatt logos."

From the company's code of business conduct and ethics, employees

  • "Have a duty to report any known or suspected violation of this Code ..." and
  • "Are prohibited from disclosing to third parties such confidential information as 'training materials' and 'personnel information.'"

The company handbook contains further rules that prohibit employees from

  • "Unauthorized disclosure or use of any confidential information about Hyatt, its associates, its clients or guests . . . you have learned through, or as a result of, your employment at Hyatt";
  • "Participating in civic or professional organization activities in a manner whereby confidential company information is divulged";
  • "Revealing confidential data to anyone";
  • "Misstating revenues, expenses, or assets";
  • "Interfering with or hindering work schedules, failing to work a shift as scheduled";
  • "Leaving your department or work area without the permission of your supervisor or being in locations other than your assigned work areas";
  • "Refusing to cooperate with a hotel investigation or failing to report a violation of hotel policies and procedures"; and
  • "Making derogatory or unfounded statements about Hyatt, its employees . . .."

The policy also requires that employees agree that they "shall not, at any time, disparage Hyatt or any of its respective subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, or employees or associates."

The Complaint also alleges the company has maintained an overbroad and discriminatory "acknowledgement form" in its handbook, which contains the following statement: "I understand my employment is 'at will,' I acknowledge that no oral or written statements or representations regarding my employment can alter my at-will employment status, except for a written statement signed by me and either Hyatt's Executive Vice President/ Chief Operating Officer or Hyatt's President."

Finally, the Complaint alleges, as overbroad and discriminatory, rules in Hyatt's Style Guide and Appearance Guideline that require the company's permission or approval to wear a union pin, limit employees to the wearing of only approved or authorized union pins, and limit employees to wearing only one union pin.

Although the Complaint was issued by the Phoenix Region of the Board, it seeks an order requiring Hyatt to rescind and cease maintaining and enforcing the alleged unlawful rules and policies in all of Hyatt's facilities nationwide. A hearing on the Complaint has been scheduled for May 2 in Phoenix before an administrative law judge.