July 24, 2014

NLRB Protects Nonunionized Workers - Again

The National Labor Relations Board has issued yet another decision pertaining to non-unionized workplaces.  This time, in Supply Technologies, LLC, the Board found that an employer’s mandatory grievance-arbitration policy violated Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (which includes the broad right “to engage in [ ] concerted activities for the purpose collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection)” because employees would “reasonably” read the policy as preventing them from filing unfair labor practice charges with the Board.

The policy at issue, designed to be broad in scope, required employees “to bring any claim of any kind” (emphasis in the original) including, among other things, all claims relating to employment and arising under employment-related statutes.  Three types of claims were specifically excluded from operation of the policy – criminal complaints, claims for workers’ compensation, and claims for unemployment benefits.  The policy also provided that employees were entitled to file a charge or complaint with a government agency, and to cooperate with a government agency that was investigating a charge or complaint.  Employees who refused to sign the policy were fired. 

Finding the policy to be “ambiguous, at best,” a majority of the Board held that reasonable employees would construe it as interfering with their right to file unfair labor practice charges or access other Board processes.” (emphasis added). The dissenting Board member found that the majority view “signaled the Board’s continued reluctance to endorse any form of mandatory alternate dispute resolution encompassing statutory claims for individual workers in a nonunion setting.”  This reluctance, he continued, cannot be reconciled with the well-recognized federal policy favoring arbitration, and reflects an “unacceptably paternalistic view of unrepresented employees.”

The Supply Tech decision joins a string of others expanding Section 7 protections in nonunionized workplaces.  For example, in 2012 alone, the Board:

  • Found employees’ Facebook comments about another employee’s criticism of their job performance were protected concerted activity under Section 7 (read more)
  • Found that a company’s policy, whereby employees were expected to be courteous, was overbroad and invalid (read more);
  • Invalidated a policy prohibiting employees from making statements that “damage the Company, defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation” was overly broad, in that it would “reasonably tend to chill employees” in the exercise of their Section 7 rights to protest working conditions (read more and more);
  • Found that a company’s blanket policy of requesting participants in an internal investigation to keep the investigation confidential improperly infringes on employees’ Section 7 rights (readmore);
  • Weighed in on employers’ social media policies (read more and more); and
  • Otherwise sought to expand its considerable influence over both unionized and non-unionized workplaces (read more).
©1994-2014 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Martha Zackin, Employment, Attorney, Mintz Levin, Law firm
Of Counsel

Martha is Of Counsel in the firm's Boston office, practicing in the Employment, Labor & Benefits Section. She has more than 20 years of experience advising and representing clients on a broad range of employment law issues and in adversarial proceedings. In her role as an advisor to employers, boards of directors, and executives, Martha regularly provides practical advice and counsel on a wide range of employment-related issues, including employee relations and policy matters, violations of noncompetition, nonsolicitation and nondisclosure agreements, employee...


Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.