Shootout between NLRB social media sheriff and GM?

The social media sheriff at the National Labor Relations, acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, has saddled into town and is making his rounds, said Troy employment attorney C. John Holmquist.

Holmquist was referring to Solomon’s third report on social media in the work place, released last week. The report details seven corporate social media policies. Six of them, according to the NLRB, are unlawful. One (Wal-Mart’s policy) was deemed lawful.

“That’s really unusual,” Holmquist said. “Because employers asked for guidance, he blesses one example as a template of what an employer can use. I can’t recall general counsel ever taking that approach before.”

One of the unlawful policies was General Motors’ policy. The NLRB called GM’s somewhat stringent policy overbroad and restrictive of employee communications, to the point where it may infringe on activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act. GM has since said that it is not changing its policy, which it argues complies with all applicable laws.

Holmquist has lately been scratching his head over the high level of activity of the NLRB.

“It seems that the NLRB has sort of become a Hail Mary. If a worker can’t do anything else, go to the NLRB and say that whatever it is the worker was doing was a protected activity,” Holmquist said. He said he thinks the next big issue that the NLRB will opine on (and, he said, will probably favor the worker over the employer) will be employer technology and computer use.

As for the social media policies, when considering who is correct — Solomon or GM? Holmquist said that’s going to have to be settled in court.

“That’s going to be tied up in litigation for at least a couple of years,” he said. “And who wants to do that?”

The easier route for many employers will be to simply use the policy that gets the NLRB’s blessing as a template .

Michigan Labor Board office gets new director

From the National Labor Relations Board:

Terry A. Morgan has been named Regional Director in the Detroit Regional Office (Region 7). She will be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s primary labor law covering private sector employees in eastern Michigan.

Morgan received her undergraduate and JD degrees from University of Wisconsin in 1981 and 1988 respectively. She began her career in 1988 in the Agency’s Cleveland office (Region 8). She served as a field attorney in both Cleveland and Manhattan (Region 2). In 1997, she was promoted to a supervisory field attorney position in Manhattan where she served until 2004 when she was promoted to a Deputy Assistant General Counsel position in the Division of Operations-Management in 2004. In this position she has had oversight responsibility over a number of regional offices, most recently Baltimore (Region 5) and Cleveland. She will replace Regional Director Stephen Glasser who retired last year.

NLRB holds off on implementing worker rights poster requirement

Did you hear that? That’s the collective sigh of relief from employers who have been sweating the upcoming deadline to implement a National Labor Relations rule that would have required them to post what they see as a very pro-union notice in every workplace.

The NLRB agreed last week to postpone the effective date of the employee rights notice posting after a federal court in Washington, D.C., requested that the board hold off until after a hearing of a legal challenge of the rule.

The new implementation date is April 30, 2012, which will allow time to resolve legal challenges.

On the implementation date, most private sector employers will be required to post an 11-by-17-inch notice. See the notice here. It is available at no cost from the NLRB through its website,

NLRB requires employers to post worker rights notices

It doesn’t matter if you’re a union shop or not. Starting in mid-November, you will be required to post notice of worker rights to organize, and to be protected from abuses by labor unions.

The National Labor Relations board issued the final rule — following a 60-day comment period that drew some 7,000 responses — which requires most private employers to notify employees of their rights.

Private-sector employers (including labor organizations) whose workplaces fall under the National Labor Relations Act will be required to post the employee rights notice where other workplace notices are typically posted, according to a press release from the NLRB. Also, employers who customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules or policies on an Internet or Intranet site will be required to post the board’s notice on those sites. Copies of the notice will be available from the agency’s regional offices, and it may also be downloaded from the NLRB website.

The notice, which is similar to one required by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors, states that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to refrain from any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.

To see a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

Can’t be fired for being a wiener…or rather, a whiner

If your clients don’t want their employees trashing the workplace on Facebook, you might want to advise them that they should say so. In writing. A Chicago car dealership didn’t, and is now defending itself for firing a salesman who made some unflattering remarks about … well, about the dealership’s decision to serve hot dogs at a sales event.

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Knauz BMW, a Chicago area BMW dealership, alleging unlawful termination of an employee for posting photos and comments on Facebook that were critical of the dealership.

The employee, a car salesman, and coworkers were unhappy with the quality of food and beverages at a dealership event promoting a new BMW model. Salesmen complained that their sales commissions could suffer as a result. Following the event, the salesman posted photos and commentary on his Facebook page critical that only hot dogs and bottled water were being offered to customers. Other employees had access to the Facebook page.

The following week, the dealership’s management asked the salesman to remove the posts, and he immediately complied. Nevertheless, shortly after a meeting with managers on June 16, the employee was terminated for posting the images and comments.

The complaint alleges that the employee’s Facebook posting was protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a discussion among employees about their terms and conditions of employment, and did not lose protection based on the nature of the comments. Unless it is settled, the case will be heard by an administrative law judge on July 21, 2011, in the Chicago Regional office of the NLRB.

Source: NLRB