Management's Workplace Lawyers

NLRA and Work Rules.

October 30, 2013

 In the latest decision addressing the limits on employer work rules, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that a policy prohibiting employees from “[c]ausing, creating, or participating in a disruption of any kind during working hours on Company property” was overly broad and interfered with employees’ Section 7 rights to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).   In Purple Communications, Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, the ALJ found that the reference to “disruptions” was so general that it could cover protected activity.  In addition, the reference to “working hours” was different from a potentially lawful reference to “working time,” since working time is specific to each employee, while working hours could refer to all hours of operation for the employer, which would include employees’ own non-working time, such as meal periods and other breaks.  Also, the use of “causing” and “creating” suggested that employees might be disciplined for engaging in protected activities away from the workplace and during non-working time, if those activities were then linked to a workplace disruption.  This case further illustrates the heightened and extra-sensitive focus the NLRB is bringing to the specific language of workplace policies.